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Copyright,  1907,  by  The  Whitman  Studio 

Helen  Keller  in  Her  Study 








9TI4,  1903,  by 

Copyright,  li)h 

The  Century  Co. 

Published  October,  1908 

J.  F.  TAPLEY  CO. 

New  York 







ii  The  Hands  of  Others 

•           • 

.     17 

hi  The  Hand  of  the  Race  . 

•                   4 

.     28 

iv  The  Power  of  Touch 

•                   « 

.     38 

v  The  Finer  Vibrations 

•                   • 

.      52 

vi  Smell,  the  Fallen  Angel 

•                    • 

.     64 

vii  Relative  Values  of  the  Senses  . 

.     78 

viii  The  Five-sensed  World    . 


.     .     84 

ix  Inward  Visions 


x  Analogies  in  Sense  Perception  . 

.    104 

xi  Before  the  Soul  Dawn    . 

•                   4 

.   113 

xii  The  Larger  Sanctions 

•                   1 

.   122 

.   134 

,    156 

.    166 

A  Chant  of  Darkness 


,     .   183 


Helen  Keller  in  her  Study      .      .      .    Frontispiece 


Listening"  to  the  Trees 70 

The  Medallion 126 

The  Little  Boy  Next  Door 172 


The  essays  and  the  poem  in  this  book 
appeared  originally  in  the  "Century 
Magazine,"  the  essays  under  the  titles 
"A  Chat  About  the  Hand,"  "Sense  and 
Sensibility,"  and  "My  Dreams."  Mr. 
Gilder  suggested  the  articles,  and  I 
thank  him  for  his  kind  interest  and  en- 
couragement. But  he  must  also  accept 
the  responsibility  which  goes  with  my 
gratitude.  For  it  is  owing  to  his  wish 
and  that  of  other  editors  that  I  talk  so 
much  about  myself. 

Every  book  is  in  a  sense  autobio- 
graphical. But  while  other  self-record- 
ing creatures  are  permitted  at  least  to 
seem  to  change  the  subject,  apparently 
nobody  cares  what  I  think  of  the  tariff, 
the  conservation  of  our  natural  re- 
sources, or  the  conflicts  which  revolve 



about  the  name  of  Dreyfus.  If  I  offer 
to  reform  the  educational  system  of  the 
world,  my  editorial  friends  say,  "That  is 
interesting.  But  will  you  please  tell  us 
what  idea  you  had  of  goodness  and 
beauty  when  you  were  six  years  old?" 
First  they  ask  me  to  tell  the  life  of  the 
child  who  is  mother  to  the  woman. 
Then  they  make  me  my  own  daughter 
and  ask  for  an  account  of  grown-up 
sensations.  Finally  I  am  requested  to 
write  about  my  dreams,  and  thus  I  be- 
come an  anachronical  grandmother ;  for 
it  is  the  special  privilege  of  old  age  to 
relate  dreams.  The  editors  are  so  kind 
that  they  are  no  doubt  right  in  thinking 
that  nothing  I  have  to  say  about  the  af- 
fairs of  the  universe  would  be  interest- 
ing. But  until  they  give  me  opportunity 
to  write  about  matters  that  are  not-me, 
the  world  must  go  on  uninstructed  and 
unref  ormed,  and  I  can  only  do  my  best 
with  the  one  small  subject  upon  which  I 
am  allowed  to  discourse. 



I  In  "The  Chant  of  Darkness"  I  did 
not  intend  to  set  up  as  a  poet.  I  thought 
I  was  writing  prose,  except  for  the  mag- 
nificent passage  from  Job  which  I  was 
paraphrasing.  But  this  part  seemed  to 
my  friends  to  separate  itself  from  the 
exposition,  and  I  made  it  into  a  kind  of 

H.  K. 

Wrenthara,  Massachusetts, 
July  1st,  1908. 






I  have  just  touched  my  dog.  He  was 
rolling  on  the  grass,  with  pleasure  in 
every  muscle  and  limb.  I  wanted  to 
catch  a  picture  of  him  in  my  fingers,  and 
I  touched  him  as  lightly  as  I  would  cob- 
webs; but  lo,  his  fat  body  revolved, 
stiffened  and  solidified  into  an  upright 
position,  and  his  tongue  gave  my  hand  a 
lick!  He  pressed  close  to  me,  as  if  he 
were  fain  to  crowd  himself  into  my 
hand.    He  loved  it  with  his  tail,  with  his 



paw,  with  his  tongue.  If  he  could 
speak,  I  believe  he  would  say  with  me 
that  paradise  is  attained  by  touch;  for 
in  touch  is  all  love  and  intelligence. 

This  small  incident  started  me  on  a 
chat  about  hands,  and  if  my  chat  is 
fortunate  I  have  to  thank  my  dog-star. 
In  any  case,  it  is  pleasant  to  have  some- 
thing to  talk  about  that  no  one  else  has 
monopolized;  it  is  like  making  a  new 
path  in  the  trackless  woods,  blazing  the 
trail  where  no  foot  has  pressed  before. 
I  am  glad  to  take  you  by  the  hand  and 
lead  you  along  an  untrodden  way  into  a 
world  where  the  hand  is  supreme.  But 
at  the  very  outset  we  encounter  a  diffi- 
culty. You  are  so  accustomed  to  light, 
I  fear  you  will  stumble  when  I  try  to 
guide  you  through  the  land  of  darkness 
and  silence.  The  blind  are  not  supposed 
to  be  the  best  of  guides.    Still,  though  I 



cannot  warrant  not  to  lose  you,  I  prom- 
ise that  you  shall  not  be  led  into  fire  or 
water,  or  fall  into  a  deep  pit.  If  you 
will  follow  me  patiently,  you  will  find 
that  "there  's  a  sound  so  fine,  nothing 
lives  'twixt  it  and  silence,"  and  that 
there  is  more  meant  in  things  than  meets 
the  eye. 

My  hand  is  to  me  what  your  hearing 
and  sight  together  are  to  you.  In  large 
measure  we  travel  the  same  highways, 
read  the  same  books,  speak  the  same 
language,  yet  our  experiences  are  dif- 
ferent. All  my  comings  and  goings 
turn  on  the  hand  as  on  a  pivot.  It  is  the 
hand  that  binds  me  to  the  world  of  men 
and  women.  The  hand  is  my  feeler  with 
which  I  reach  through  isolation  and 
darkness  and  seize  every  pleasure,  every 
activity  that  my  fingers  encounter. 
With  the  dropping  of  a  little  word  from 



another's  hand  into  mine,  a  slight  flutter 
of  the  fingers,  began  the  intelligence, 
the  joy,  the  fullness  of  my  life.  Like 
Job,  I  feel  as  if  a  hand  had  made  me, 
fashioned  me  together  round  about  and 
molded  my  very  soul. 

In  all  my  experiences  and  thoughts  I 
am  conscious  of  a  hand.  Whatever 
moves  me,  whatever  thrills  me,  is  as  a 
hand  that  touches  me  in  the  dark,  and 
that  touch  is  my  reality.  You  might  as 
well  say  that  a  sight  which  makes  you 
glad,  or  a  blow  which  brings  the  sting- 
ing tears  to  your  eyes,  is  unreal  as  to  say 
that  those  impressions  are  unreal  which 
I  have  accumulated  by  means  of  touch. 
The  delicate  tremble  of  a  butterfly's 
wings  in  my  hand,  the  soft  petals  of 
violets  curling  in  the  cool  folds  of  their 
leaves  or  lifting  sweetly  out  of  the 
meadow-grass,  the  clear,  firm  outline  of 



face  and  limb,  the  smooth  arch  of  a 
horse's  neck  and  the  velvety  touch  of  his 
nose — all  these,  and  a  thousand  result- 
ant combinations,  which  take  shape  in 
my  mind,  constitute  my  world. 

Ideas  make  the  world  we  live  in,  and 
impressions  furnish  ideas.  My  world  is 
built  of  touch-sensations,  devoid  of 
physical  color  and  sound;  but  without 
color  and  sound  it  breathes  and  throbs 
with  life.  Every  object  is  associated  in 
my  mind  with  tactual  qualities  which, 
combined  in  countless  ways,  give  me  a 
sense  of  power,  of  beauty,  or  of  incon- 
gruity :  for  with  my  hands  I  can  feel  the 
comic  as  well  as  the  beautiful  in  the 
outward  appearance  of  things.  Re- 
member that  you,  dependent  on  your 
sight,  do  not  realize  how  many  things 
are  tangible.  All  palpable  things  are 
mobile  or  rigid,  solid  or  liquid,  big  or 



small,  warm  or  cold,  and  these  qualities 
are  variously  modified.  The  coolness  of 
a  water-lily  rounding  into  bloom  is  dif- 
ferent from  the  coolness  of  an  evening 
wind  in  summer,  and  different  again 
from  the  coolness  of  the  rain  that  soaks 
into  the  hearts  of  growing  things  and 
gives  them  life  and  body.  The  velvet 
of  the  rose  is  not  that  of  a  ripe 
peach  or  of  a  baby's  dimpled  cheek. 
The  hardness  of  the  rock  is  to 
the  hardness  of  wood  what  a  man's 
deep  bass  is  to  a  woman's  voice 
when  it  is  low.  What  I  call  beauty  I 
find  in  certain  combinations  of  all  these 
qualities,  and  is  largely  derived  from 
the  flow  of  curved  and  straight  lines 
which  is  over  all  things. 

"What  does  the  straight  line  mean  to 
you?"  I  think  you  will  ask. 

It  means  several  things.    It  symbol- 



izes  duty.  It  seems  to  have  the  quality 
of  inexorableness  that  duty  has.  When 
I  have  something  to  do  that  must  not  be 
set  aside,  I  feel  as  if  I  were  going  for- 
ward in  a  straight  line,  bound  to  arrive 
somewhere,  or  go  on  forever  without 
swerving  to  the  right  or  to  the  left. 

That  is  what  it  means.  To  escape  this 
moralizing  you  should  ask,  "How  does 
the  straight  line  feel?"  It  feels,  as  I 
suppose  it  looks,  straight— a  dull 
thought  drawn  out  endlessly.  Elo- 
quence to  the  touch  resides  not  in 
straight  lines,  but  in  unstraight  lines,  or 
in  many  curved  and  straight  lines 
together.  They  appear  and  disappear, 
are  now  deep,  now  shallow,  now  broken 
off  or  lengthened  or  swelling.  They 
rise  and  sink  beneath  my  fingers,  they 
are  full  of  sudden  starts  and  pauses,  and 
their  variety  is  inexhaustible  and  won- 



derful.  So  you  see  I  am  not  shut  out 
from  the  region  of  the  beautiful,  though 
my  hand  cannot  perceive  the  brilliant 
colors  in  the  sunset  or  on  the  mountain, 
or  reach  into  the  blue  depths  of  the 

Physics  tells  me  that  I  am  well 
off  in  a  world  which,  I  am  told,  knows 
neither  color  nor  sound,  but  is  made  in 
terms  of  size,  shape,  and  inherent 
qualities;  for  at  least  every  object 
appears  to  my  fingers  standing  solidly 
right  side  up,  and  is  not  an  inverted 
image  on  the  retina  which,  I  under- 
stand, your  brain  is  at  infinite  though 
unconscious  labor  to  set  back  on 
its  feet.  A  tangible  object  passes  com- 
plete into  my  brain  with  the  warmth  of 
life  upon  it,  and  occupies  the  same  place 
that  it  does  in  space;  for,  without  ego- 
tism, the  mind  is  as  large  as  the  universe. 



When  I  think  of  hills,  I  think  of  the  up- 
ward strength  I  tread  upon.  When 
water  is  the  object  of  my  thought,  I  feel 
the  cool  shock  of  the  plunge  and  the 
quick  yielding  of  the  waves  that  crisp 
and  curl  and  ripple  about  my  body.  The 
pleasing  changes  of  rough  and  smooth, 
pliant  and  rigid,  curved  and  straight  in 
the  bark  and  branches  of  a  tree  give  the 
truth  to  my  hand.  The  immovable  rock, 
with  its  juts  and  warped  surface,  bends 
beneath  my  fingers  into  all  manner  of 
grooves  and  hollows.  The  bulge  of  a 
watermelon  and  the  puff  ed-up  rotundi- 
ties of  squashes  that  sprout,  bud,  and 
ripen  in  that  strange  garden  planted 
somewhere  behind  my  finger-tips  are 
the  ludicrous  in  my  tactual  memory  and 
imagination.  My  fingers  are  tickled  to 
delight  by  the  soft  ripple  of  a  baby's 
laugh,  and  find  amusement  in  the  lusty 



crow  of  the  barnyard  autocrat.  Once  I 
had  a  pet  rooster  that  used  to  perch  on 
my  knee  and  stretch  his  neck  and  crow. 
A  bird  in  my  hand  was  then  worth  two 
in  the — barnyard. 

My  ringers  cannot,  of  course,  get  the 
impression  of  a  large  whole  at  a  glance ; 
but  I  feel  the  parts,  and  my  mind  puts 
them  together.  I  move  around  my 
house,  touching  object  after  object  in 
order,  before  I  can  form  an  idea  of  the 
entire  house.  In  other  people's  houses  I 
can  touch  only  what  is  shown  me — the 
chief  objects  of  interest,  carvings  on  the 
wall,  or  a  curious  architectural  feature, 
exhibited  like  the  family  album.  There- 
fore a  house  with  which  I  am  not  famil- 
iar has  for  me,  at  first,  no  general  ef- 
fect or  harmony  of  detail.  It  is  not  a 
complete  conception,  but  a  collection  of 
object-impressions  which,  as  they  come 



to  me,  are  disconnected  and  isolated. 
But  my  mind  is  full  of  associations,  sen- 
sations, theories,  and  with  them  it  con- 
structs the  house.  The  process  reminds 
me  of  the  building  of  Solomon's  temple, 
where  was  neither  saw,  nor  hammer,  nor 
any  tool  heard  while  the  stones  were 
being  laid  one  upon  another.  The 
silent  worker  is  imagination  which  de- 
crees reality  out  of  chaos. 

Without  imagination  what  a  poor 
thing  my  world  would  be !  My  garden 
would  be  a  silent  patch  of  earth  strewn 
with  sticks  of  a  variety  of  shapes  and 
smells.  But  when  the  eye  of  my  mind 
is  opened  to  its  beauty,  the  bare  ground 
brightens  beneath  my  feet,  and  the 
hedge-row  bursts  into  leaf,  and  the  rose- 
tree  shakes  its  fragrance  everywhere.  I 
know  how  budding  trees  look,  and  I  en- 
ter into  the  amorous  joy  of  the  mating 



birds,  and  this  is  the  miracle  of  imagina- 

Twofold  is  the  miracle  when,  through 
my  fingers,  my  imagination  reaches 
forth  and  meets  the  imagination  of  an 
artist  which  he  has  embodied  in  a  sculp- 
tured form.  Although,  compared  with 
the  life-warm,  mobile  face  of  a  friend, 
the  marble  is  cold  and  pulseless  and  un- 
responsive, yet  it  is  beautiful  to  my 
hand.  Its  flowing  curves  and  bendings 
are  a  real  pleasure ;  only  breath  is  want- 
ing ;  but  under  the  spell  of  the  imagina- 
tion the  marble  thrills  and  becomes  the 
divine  reality  of  the  ideal.  Imagination 
puts  a  sentiment  into  every  line  and 
curve,  and  the  statue  in  my  touch  is  in- 
deed the  goddess  herself  who  breathes 
and  moves  and  enchants. 

It  is  true,  however,  that  some  sculp- 
tures, even  recognized  masterpieces,  do 



not  please  my  hand.  When  I  touch 
what  there  is  of  the  Winged  Victory, 
it  reminds  me  at  first  of  a  headless,  limb- 
less dream  that  flies  toward  me  in  an 
unrestful  sleep.  The  garments  of  the 
Victory  thrust  stiffly  out  behind,  and  do 
not  resemble  garments  that  I  have  felt 
flying,  fluttering,  folding,  spreading  in 
the  wind.  But  imagination  fulfils  these 
imperfections,  and  straightway  the  Vic- 
tory becomes  a  powerful  and  spirited 
figure  with  the  sweep  of  sea-winds  in 
her  robes  and  the  splendor  of  conquest 
in  her  wings. 

I  find  in  a  beautiful  statue  per- 
fection of  bodily  form,  the  qualities 
of  balance  and  completeness.  The 
Minerva,  hung  with  a  web  of  poetical 
allusion,  gives  me  a  sense  of  exhilaration 
that  is  almost  physical;  and  1  like  the 
luxuriant,  wavy  hair  of  Bacchus  and 



Apollo,  and  the  wreath  of  ivy,  so  sug- 
gestive of  pagan  holidays. 

So  imagination  crowns  the  experience 
of  my  hands.  And  they  learned  their 
cunning  from  the  wise  hand  of  another, 
which,  itself  guided  by  imagination,  led 
me  safely  in  paths  that  I  knew  not, 
made  darkness  light  before  me,  and 
made  crooked  ways  straight. 




The  warmth  and  protectiveness  of 
the  hand  are  most  homef  elt  to  me 
who  have  always  looked  to  it  for  aid  and 
joy.  I  understand  perfectly  how  the 
Psalmist  can  lift  up  his  voice  with 
strength  and  gladness,  singing,  "I  put 
my  trust  in  the  Lord  at  all  times,  and 
his  hand  shall  uphold  me,  and  I  shall 
dwell  in  safety."  In  the  strength  of  the 
human  hand,  too,  there  is  something 
divine.  I  am  told  that  the  glance  of  a 
beloved  eye  thrills  one  from  a  distance; 
but  there  is  no  distance  in  the  touch  of 
a  beloved  hand.  Even  the  letters  I  re- 
ceive are — 
2  !7 


Kind  letters  that  betray  the  heart's  deep 

In  which  we  feel  the  presence  of  a  hand. 

It  is  interesting  to  observe  the  differ- 
ences in  the  hands  of  people.  They 
show  all  kinds  of  vitality,  energy,  still- 
ness, and  cordiality.  I  never  realized 
how  living  the  hand  is  until  I  saw  those 
chill  plaster  images  in  Mr.  Hutton's 
collection  of  casts.  The  hand  I  know  in 
life  has  the  fullness  of  blood  in  its  veins, 
and  is  elastic  with  spirit.  How  different 
dear  Mr.  Hutton's  hand  was  from  its 
dull,  insensate  image!  To  me  the  cast 
lacks  the  very  form  of  the  hand.  Of 
the  many  casts  in  Mr.  Hutton's  collec- 
tion I  did  not  recognize  any,  not  even 
my  own.  But  a  loving  hand  I  never 
forget.  I  remember  in  my  fingers  the 
large  hands  of  Bishop  Brooks,  brimful 
of  tenderness  and  a  strong  man's  joy. 



If  you  were  deaf  and  blind,  and  could 
have  held  Mr.  Jefferson's  hand,  you 
would  have  seen  in  it  a  face  and  heard  a 
kind  voice  unlike  any  other  you  have 
known.  Mark  Twain's  hand  is  full  of 
whimsies  and  the  drollest  humors,  and 
while  you  hold  it  the  drollery  changes  to 
sympathy  and  championship. 

I  am  told  that  the  words  I  have  just 
written  do  not  "describe"  the  hands  of 
my  friends,  but  merely  endow  them  with 
the  kindly  human  qualities  which  I 
know  they  possess,  and  which  language 
conveys  in  abstract  words.  The  criti- 
cism implies  that  I  am  not  giving  the 
primary  truth  of  what  I  feel;  but  how 
otherwise  do  descriptions  in  books  I 
read,  written  by  men  who  can  see,  ren- 
der the  visible  look  of  a  face?  I  read 
that  a  face  is  strong,  gentle;  that  it  is 
full  of  patience,  of  intellect;  that  it  is 



fine,  sweet,  noble,  beautiful.  Have  I 
not  the  same  right  to  use  these  words  in 
describing  what  I  feel  as  you  have  in 
describing  what  you  see  ?  They  express 
truly  what  I  feel  in  the  hand.  I  am  sel- 
dom conscious  of  physical  qualities,  and 
I  do  not  remember  whether  the  fingers 
of  a  hand  are  short  or  long,  or  the  skin 
is  moist  or  dry.  No  more  can  you,  with- 
out conscious  effort,  recall  the  details  of 
a  face,  even  when  you  have  seen  it  many 
times.  If  you  do  recall  the  features, 
and  say  that  an  eye  is  blue,  a  chin  sharp, 
a  nose  short,  or  a  cheek  sunken,  I  fancy 
that  you  do  not  succeed  well  in  giving 
the  impression  of  the  person, — not  so 
well  as  when  you  interpret  at  once  to  the 
heart  the  essential  moral  qualities  of  the 
face — its  humor,  gravity,  sadness,  spir- 
ituality. If  I  should  tell  you  in  physical 
terms  how  a  hand  feels,  you  would  be 



no  wiser  for  my  account  than  a  blind 
man  to  whom  you  describe  a  face  in  de- 
tail. Remember  that  when  a  blind  man 
recovers  his  sight,  he  does  not  recognize 
the  commonest  thing  that  has  been  fa- 
miliar to  his  touch,  the  dearest  face  inti- 
mate to  his  ringers,  and  it  does  not  help 
him  at  all  that  things  and  people  have 
been  described  to  him  again  and  again. 
So  you,  who  are  untrained  of  touch,  do 
not  recognize  a  hand  by  the  grasp ;  and 
so,  too,  any  description  I  might  give 
would  fail  to  make  you  acquainted  with 
a  friendly  hand  which  my  fingers  have 
often  folded  about,  and  which  my  affec- 
tion translates  to  my  memory. 

I  cannot  describe  hands  under  any 
class  or  type;  there  is  no  democracy  of 
hands.  Some  hands  tell  me  that  they  do 
everything  with  the  maximum  of  bustle 
and  noise.    Other  hands  are  fidgety  and 



unadvised,  with  nervous,  fussy  fingers 
which  indicate  a  nature  sensitive  to  the 
little  pricks  of  daily  life.  Sometimes  I 
recognize  with  foreboding  the  kindly 
but  stupid  hand  of  one  who  tells  with 
many  words  news  that  is  no  news.  I 
have  met  a  bishop  with  a  jocose  hand,  a 
humorist  with  a  hand  of  leaden  grav- 
ity, a  man  of  pretentious  valor  with  a 
timorous  hand,  and  a  quiet,  apologetic 
man  with  a  fist  of  iron.  When  I  was 
a  little  girl  I  was  taken  to  see1  a  woman 
who  was  blind  and  paralyzed.  I  shall 
never  forget  how  she  held  out  her  small, 
trembling  hand  and  pressed  sympathy 
into  mine.  My  eyes  fill  with  tears  as  I 
think  of  her.  The  weariness,  pain,  dark- 

1  The  excellent  proof-reader  has  put  a  query  to  my  use 
of  the  word  "see."  If  I  had  said  "visit,"  he  would  have 
asked  no  questions,  yet  what  does  "visit"  mean  but 
'  "  see  "  (visitare)  ?  Later  I  will  try  to  defend  myself  for 
using  as  much  of  the  English  language  as  I  have  suc- 
ceeded in  learning. 



ness,  and  sweet  patience  were  all  to  be 
felt  in  her  thin,  wasted,  groping,  loving 

Few  people  who  do  not  know  me  will 
understand,  I  think,  how  much  I  get  of 
the  mood  of  a  friend  who  is  engaged  in 
oral  conversation  with  somebody  else. 
My  hand  follows  his  motions;  I  touch 
his  hand,  his  arm,  his  face.  I  can  tell 
when  he  is  full  of  glee  over  a  good  joke 
which  has  not  been  repeated  to  me,  or 
when  he  is  telling  a  lively  story.  One 
of  my  friends  is  rather  aggressive,  and 
his  hand  always  announces  the  coming 
of  a  dispute.  By  his  impatient  jerk  I 
know  he  has  argument  ready  for  some 
one.  I  have  felt  him  start  as  a  sudden 
recollection  or  a  new  idea  shot  through 
his  mind.  I  have  felt  grief  in  his  hand. 
I  have  felt  his  soul  wrap  itself  in  dark- 
ness majestically  as  in  a  garment.    An- 



other  friend  has  positive,  emphatic 
hands  which  show  great  pertinacity  of 
opinion.  She  is  the  only  person  I  know 
who  emphasizes  her  spelled  words  and 
accents  them  as  she  emphasizes  and  ac- 
cents her  spoken  words  when  I  read  her 
lips.  I  like  this  varied  emphasis  better 
than  the  monotonous  pound  of  unmodu- 
lated people  who  hammer  their  meaning 
into  my  palm. 

Some  hands,  when  they  clasp  yours, 
beam  and  bubble  over  with  gladness. 
They  throb  and  expand  with  life. 
Strangers  have  clasped  my  hand  like 
that  of  a  long-lost  sister.  Other  people 
shake  hands  with  me  as  if  with  the  fear 
that  I  may  do  them  mischief.  Such  per- 
sons hold  out  civil  finger-tips  which  they 
permit  you  to  touch,  and  in  the  moment 
of  contact  they  retreat,  and  inwardly 
you  hope  that  you  will  not  be  called 



upon  again  to  take  that  hand  of  "dor- 
mouse valor."  It  betokens  a  prudish 
mind,  ungracious  pride,  and  not  seldom 
mistrust.  It  is  the  antipode  to  the  hand 
of  those  who  have  large,  lovable  natures. 

The  handshake  of  some  people  makes 
you  think  of  accident  and  sudden  death. 
Contrast  this  ill-boding  hand  with  the 
quick,  skilful,  quiet  hand  of  a  nurse 
whom  I  remember  with  affection  be- 
cause she  took  the  best  care  of  my 
teacher.  I  have  clasped  the  hands  of 
some  rich  people  that  spin  not  and  toil 
not,  and  yet  are  not  beautiful.  Beneath 
their  soft,  smooth  roundness  what  a 
chaos  of  undeveloped  character! 

I  am  sure  there  is  no  hand  comparable 
to  the  physician's  in  patient  skill,  merci- 
ful gentleness  and  splendid  certainty. 
No  wonder  that  Ruskin  finds  in  the  sure 
strokes  of  the  surgeon  the  perfection  of 



control  and  delicate  precision  for  the 
artist  to  emulate.  If  the  physician  is  a 
man  of  great  nature,  there  will  be  heal- 
ing for  the  spirit  in  his  touch.  This 
magic  touch  of  well-being  was  in  the 
hand  of  a  dear  friend  of  mine  who  was 
our  doctor  in  sickness  and  health.  His 
happy  cordial  spirit  did  his  patients 
good  whether  they  needed  medicine  or 

As  there  are  many  beauties  of  the 
face,  so  the  beauties  of  the  hand  are 
many.  Touch  has  its  ecstasies.  The 
hands  of  people  of  strong  individuality 
and  sensitiveness  are  wonderfully  mo- 
bile. In  a  glance  of  their  finger-tips 
they  express  many  shades  of  thought. 
Now  and  again  I  touch  a  fine,  graceful, 
supple-wristed  hand  which  spells  with 
the  same  beauty  and  distinction  that  you 
must  see  in  the  handwriting  of  some 



highly  cultivated  people.  I  wish  you 
could  see  how  prettily  little  children 
spell  in  my  hand.  They  are  wild  flowers 
of  humanity,  and  their  finger  motions 
wild  flowers  of  speech. 

All  this  is  my  private  science  of 
palmistry,  and  when  I  tell  your  fortune 
it  is  by  no  mysterious  intuition  or  Gipsy 
witchcraft,  but  by  natural,  explicable 
recognition  of  the  embossed  character  in 
your  hand.  Not  only  is  the  hand  as  easy 
to  recognize  as  the  face,  but  it  reveals  its 
secrets  more  openly  and  unconsciously. 
People  control  their  countenances,  but 
the  hand  is  under  no  such  restraint.  It 
relaxes  and  becomes  listless  when  the 
spirit  is  low  and  dejected;  the  muscles 
tighten  when  the  mind  is  excited  or  the 
heart  glad;  and  permanent  qualities 
stand  written  on  it  all  the  time. 




Iook  in  your  "Century  Dictionary,"  or 
-J  if  you  are  blind,  ask  your  teacher 
to  do  it  for  you,  and  learn  how  many 
idioms  are  made  on  the  idea  of  hand, 
and  how  many  words  are  formed  from 
the  Latin  root  manus — enough  words  to 
name  all  the  essential  affairs  of  life. 
"Hand,"  with  quotations  and  com- 
pounds, occupies  twenty- four  columns, 
eight  pages  of  this  dictionary.  The 
hand  is  defined  as  "the  organ  of  appre- 
hension." How  perfectly  the  definition 
fits  my  case  in  both  senses  of  the  word 
"apprehend"!  With  my  hand  I  seize 
and  hold  all  that  I  find  in  the  three 



worlds — physical,  intellectual,  and  spir- 

Think  how  man  has  regarded  the 
world  in  terms  of  the  hand.  All  life  is 
divided  between  what  lies  on  one  hand 
and  on  the  other.  The  products  of  skill 
are  manufactures.  The  conduct  of  af- 
fairs is  management.  History  seems  to 
be  the  record — alas  for  our  chronicles  of 
war! — of  the  manosuvers  of  armies. 
But  the  history  of  peace,  too,  the  narra- 
tive of  labor  in  the  field,  the  forest,  and 
the  vineyard,  is  written  in  the  victorious 
sign  manual — the  sign  of  the  hand  that 
has  conquered  the  wilderness.  The 
laborer  himself  is  called  a  hand.  In 
manacle  and  mannmission  we  read  the 
story  of  human  slavery  and  freedom. 

The  minor  idioms  are  myriad;  but  I 
will  not  recall  too  many,  lest  you  cry, 
"Hands  off!"    I  cannot  desist,  however, 



from  this  word-game  until  I  have  set 
down  a  few.  Whatever  is  not  one's  own 
by  first  possession  is  second-hand.  That 
is  what  I  am  told  my  knowledge  is.  But 
my  well-meaning  friends  come  to  my 
defense,  and,  not  content  with  endowing 
me  with  natural  first-hand  knowledge 
which  is  rightfully  mine,  ascribe  to  me 
a  preternatural  sixth  sense  and  credit  to 
miracles  and  heaven-sent  compensations 
all  that  I  have  won  and  discovered  with 
my  good  right  hand.  And  with  my  left 
hand  too ;  for  with  that  I  read,  and  it  is 
as  true  and  honorable  as  the  other.  By 
what  half -development  of  human  power 
has  the  left  hand  been  neglected? 
When  we  arrive  at  the  acme  of  civiliza- 
tion shall  we  not  all  be  ambidextrous, 
and  in  our  hand-to-hand  contests  against 
difficulties  shall  we  not  be  doubly  tri- 
umphant?   It  occurs  to  me,  by  the  way, 



that  when  my  teacher  was  training  my 
unreclaimed  spirit,  her  struggle  against 
the  powers  of  darkness,  with  the  stout 
arm  of  discipline  and  the  light  of  the 
manual  alphabet,  was  in  two  senses  a 
hand-to-hand  conflict. 

No  essay  would  be  complete  with- 
out quotations  from  Shakspere.  In  the 
field  which,  in  the  presumption  of  my 
youth,  I  thought  was  my  own  he  has 
reaped  before  me.  In  almost  every 
play  there  are  passages  where  the 
hand  plays  a  part.  Lady  Macbeth's 
heartbroken  soliloquy  over  her  little 
hand,  from  which  all  the  perfumes  of 
Arabia  will  not  wash  the  stain,  is  the 
most  pitiful  moment  in  the  tragedy. 
Mark  Antony  rewards  Scarus,  the 
bravest  of  his  soldiers,  by  asking  Cleo- 
patra to  give  him  her  hand:  "Commend 
unto  his  lips  thy  favoring  hand."    In  a 



different  mood  he  is  enraged  because 
Thyreus,  whom  he  despises,  has  pre- 
sumed to  kiss  the  hand  of  the  queen, 
"my  playfellow,  the  kingly  seal  of  high 
hearts."  When  Cleopatra  is  threatened 
with  the  humiliation  of  gracing  Caesar's 
triumph,  she  snatches  a  dagger,  exclaim- 
ing, "I  will  trust  my  resolution  and  my 
good  hands."  With  the  same  swift  in- 
stinct, Cassius  trusts  to  his  hands  when 
he  stabs  Caesar:  "Speak,  hands,  for  me!" 
"Let  me  kiss  your  hand,"  says  the  blind 
Gloster  to  Lear.  "Let  me  wipe  it  first," 
replies  the  broken  old  king;  "it  smells  of 
mortality."  How  charged  is  this  single 
touch  with  sad  meaning !  How  it  opens 
our  eyes  to  the  fearful  purging  Lear 
has  undergone,  to  learn  that  royalty  is 
no  defense  against  ingratitude  and 
cruelty!  Gloster's  exclamation  about 
his  son,  "Did  I  but  live  to  see  thee  in  my 



touch,  I  'd  say  I  had  eyes  again,"  is  as 
true  to  a  pulse  within  me  as  the  grief  he 
feels.  The  ghost  in  "Hamlet"  recites 
the  wrongs  from  which  springs  the 
tragedy : 

Thus  was  I,  sleeping,  by  a  brother's  hand 
At  once  of  life,  of  crown,  of  queen 

How  that  passage  in  "Othello"  stops 
your  breath— that  passage  full  of  bitter 
double  intention  in  which  Othello's  sus- 
picion tips  with  evil  what  he  says  about 
Desdemona's  hand ;  and  she  in  innocence 
answers  only  the  innocent  meaning  of 
his  words:  "For  't  was  that  hand  that 
gave  away  my  heart." 

Not  all  Shakspere's  great  passages 

about  the  hand  are  tragic.    Remember 

the  light  play  of  words  in  "Romeo  and 

Juliet"  where  the  dialogue,  flying  nim- 

3  33 


bly  back  and  forth,  weaves  a  pretty 
sonnet  about  the  hand.  And  who  knows 
the  hand,  if  not  the  lover? 

The  touch  of  the  hand  is  in  every 
chapter  of  the  Bible.  Why,  you  could 
almost  rewrite  Exodus  as  the  story  of 
the  hand.  Everything  is  done  by  the 
hand  of  the  Lord  and  of  Moses.  The 
oppression  of  the  Hebrews  is  translated 
thus:  "The  hand  of  Pharaoh  was  heavy 
upon  the  Hebrews."  Their  departure 
out  of  the  land  is  told  in  these  vivid 
words:  "The  Lord  brought  the  children 
of  Israel  out  of  the  house  of  bondage 
with  a  strong  hand  and  a  stretched-out 
arm."  At  the  stretching  out  of  the  hand 
of  Moses  the  waters  of  the  Red  Sea  part 
and  stand  all  on  a  heap.  When  the 
Lord  lifts  his  hand  in  anger,  thousands 
perish  in  the  wilderness.  Every  act, 
every  decree  in  the  history  of  Israel,  as 



indeed  in  the  history  of  the  human  race, 
is  sanctioned  by  the  hand.  Is  it  not  used 
in  the  great  moments  of  swearing,  bless- 
ing, cursing,  smiting,  agreeing,  marry- 
ing, building,  destroying?  Its  sacred- 
ness  is  in  the  law  that  no  sacrifice  is  valid 
unless  the  sacrificer  lay  his  hand  upon 
the  head  of  the  victim.  The  congrega- 
tion lay  their  hands  on  the  heads  of 
those  who  are  sentenced  to  death.  How 
terrible  the  dumb  condemnation  of  their 
hands  must  be  to  the  condemned! 
When  Moses  builds  the  altar  on  Mount 
Sinai,  he  is  commanded  to  use  no  tool, 
but  rear  it  with  his  own  hands.  Earth, 
sea,  sky,  man,  and  all  lower  animals  are 
holy  unto  the  Lord  because  he  has 
formed  them  with  his  hand.  When  the 
Psalmist  considers  the  heavens  and  the 
earth,  he  exclaims:  "What  is  man,  O 
Lord,  that  thou  art  mindful  of  him? 



For  thou  hast  made  him  to  have  dominion 
over  the  works  of  thy  hands."  The  sup- 
plicating gesture  of  the  hand  always  ac- 
companies the  spoken  prayer,  and  with 
clean  hands  goes  the  pure  heart. 

Christ  comforted  and  blessed  and 
healed  and  wrought  many  miracles  with 
his  hands.  He  touched  the  eyes  of  the 
blind,  and  they  were  opened.  When 
Jairus  sought  him,  overwhelmed  with 
grief,  Jesus  went  and  laid  his  hands  on 
the  ruler's  daughter,  and  she  awoke 
from  the  sleep  of  death  to  her  father's 
love.  You  also  remember  how  he  healed 
the  crooked  woman.  He  said  to  her, 
"Woman,  thou  art  loosed  from  thine  in- 
firmity," and  he  laid  his  hands  on  her, 
and  immediately  she  was  made  straight, 
and  she  glorified  God. 

Look  where  we  will,  we  find  the  hand 
in  time  and  history,  working,  building, 



inventing,  bringing  civilization  out  of 
barbarism.  The  hand  symbolizes  power 
and  the  excellence  of  work.  The  me- 
chanic's hand,  that  minister  of  elemental 
forces,  the  hand  that  hews,  saws,  cuts, 
builds,  is  useful  in  the  world  equally 
with  the  delicate  hand  that  paints  a  wild 
flower  or  molds  a  Grecian  urn,  or  the 
hand  of  a  statesman  that  writes  a  law. 
The  eye  cannot  say  to  the  hand,  "I  have 
no  need  of  thee."  Blessed  be  the  hand! 
Thrice  blessed  be  the  hands  that  work ! 




Some  months  ago,  in  a  newspaper 
which  announced  the  publication  of 
the  "Matilda  Ziegler  Magazine  for  the 
Blind,"  appeared  the  following  para- 
graph : 

"Many  poems  and  stories  must  be 
omitted  because  they  deal  with  sight. 
Allusion  to  moonbeams,  rainbows,  star- 
light, clouds,  and  beautiful  scenery  may 
not  be  printed,  because  they  serve  to 
emphasize  the  blind  man's  sense  of  his 

That  is  to  say,  I  may  not  talk  about 
beautiful  mansions  and  gardens  because 



I  am  poor.  I  may  not  read  about  Paris 
and  the  West  Indies  because  I  cannot 
visit  them  in  their  territorial  reality.  I 
may  not  dream  of  heaven  because  it  is 
possible  that  I  may  never  go  there.  Yet 
a  venturesome  spirit  impels  me  to  use 
words  of  sight  and  sound  whose  mean- 
ing I  can  guess  only  from  analogy  and 
fancy.  This  hazardous  game  is  half  the 
delight,  the  frolic,  of  daily  life.  I  glow 
as  I  read  of  splendors  which  the  eye 
alone  can  survey.  Allusions  to  moon- 
beams and  clouds  do  not  emphasize  the 
sense  of  my  affliction:  they  carry  my 
soul  beyond  affliction's  narrow  actuality. 
Critics  delight  to  tell  us  what  we  can- 
not do.  They  assume  that  blindness  and 
deafness  sever  us  completely  from  the 
things  which  the  seeing  and  the  hearing 
enjoy,  and  hence  they  assert  we  have  no 
moral  right  to  talk  about  beauty,  the 



skies,  mountains,  the  song  of  birds,  and 
colors.  They  declare  that  the  very  sen- 
sations we  have  from  the  sense  of  touch 
are  "vicarious,"  as  though  our  friends 
felt  the  sun  for  us !  They  deny  a  priori 
what  they  have  not  seen  and  I  have  felt. 
Some  brave  doubters  have  gone  so  far 
even  as  to  deny  my  existence.  In  order, 
therefore,  that  I  may  know  that  I  exist, 
I  resort  to  Descartes's  method:  "I  think, 
therefore  I  am."  Thus  I  am  metaphys- 
ically established,  and  I  throw  upon  the 
doubters  the  burden  of  proving  my  non- 
existence. When  we  consider  how  little 
has  been  found  out  about  the  mind,  is  it 
not  amazing  that  any  one  should  pre- 
sume to  define  what  one  can  know  or 
cannot  know?  I  admit  that  there  are 
innumerable  marvels  in  the  visible  uni- 
verse unguessed  by  me.  Likewise,  O 
confident  critic,  there  are  a  myriad  sen- 



sations  perceived  by  me  of  which  you  do 
not  dream. 

Necessity  gives  to  the  eye  a  precious 
power  of  seeing,  and  in  the  same  way  it 
gives  a  precious  power  of  feeling  to  the 
whole  body.  Sometimes  it  seems  as  if 
the  very  substance  of  my  flesh  were  so 
many  eyes  looking  out  at  will  upon  a 
world  new  created  every  day.  The 
silence  and  darkness  which  are  said  to 
shut  me  in,  open  my  door  most  hospi- 
tably to  countless  sensations  that  dis- 
tract, inform,  admonish,  and  amuse. 
With  my  three  trusty  guides,  touch, 
smell,  and  taste,  I  make  many  excur- 
sions into  the  borderland  of  experience 
which  is  in  sight  of  the  city  of  Light. 
Nature  accommodates  itself  to  every 
man's  necessity.  If  the  eye  is  maimed, 
so  that  it  does  not  see  the  beauteous  face 
of  day,  the  touch  becomes  more  poign- 



ant  and  discriminating.  Nature  pro- 
ceeds through  practice  to  strengthen 
and  augment  the  remaining  senses. 
For  this  reason  the  blind  often  hear  with 
greater  ease  and  distinctness  than  other 
people.  The  sense  of  smell  becomes 
almost  a  new  faculty  to  penetrate  the 
tangle  and  vagueness  of  things.  Thus, 
according  to  an  immutable  law,  the 
senses  assist  and  reinforce  one  another. 
It  is  not  for  me  to  say  whether  we  see 
best  with  the  hand  or  the  eye.  I  only 
know  that  the  world  I  see  with  my 
fingers  is  alive,  ruddy,  and  satisfying. 
Touch  brings  the  blind  many  sweet  cer- 
tainties which  our  more  fortunate  fel- 
lows miss,  because  their  sense  of  touch 
is  uncultivated.  When  they  look  at 
things,  they  put  their  hands  in  their 
pockets.  No  doubt  that  is  one  reason 
why  their  knowledge  is  often  so  vague, 



inaccurate,  and  useless.  It  is  probable, 
too,  that  our  knowledge  of  phenomena 
beyond  the  reach  of  the  hand  is  equally 
imperfect.  But,  at  all  events,  we  behold 
them  through  a  golden  mist  of  fantasy. 

There  is  nothing,  however,  misty  or 
uncertain  about  what  we  can  touch. 
Through  the  sense  of  touch  I  know  the 
faces  of  friends,  the  illimitable  variety 
of  straight  and  curved  lines,  all  surfaces, 
the  exuberance  of  the  soil,  the  delicate 
shapes  of  flowers,  the  noble  forms  of 
trees,  and  the  range  of  mighty  winds. 
Besides  objects,  surfaces,  and  atmo- 
spherical changes,  I  perceive  countless 
vibrations.  I  derive  much  knowledge 
of  every-day  matter  from  the  jars  and 
jolts  which  are  to  be  felt  everywhere  in 
the  house. 

Footsteps,  I  discover,  vary  tactually 
according  to  the  age,  the  sex,  and  the 



manners  of  the  walker.  It  is  impossible 
to  mistake  a  child's  patter  for  the  tread 
of  a  grown  person.  The  step  of  the 
young  man,  strong  and  free,  differs 
from  the  heavy,  sedate  tread  of  the  mid- 
dle-aged, and  from  the  step  of  the  old 
man,  whose  feet  drag  along  the  floor,  or 
beat  it  with  slow,  faltering  accents.  On 
a  bare  floor  a  girl  walks  with  a  rapid, 
elastic  rhythm  which  is  quite  distinct 
from  the  graver  step  of  the  elderly 
woman.  I  have  laughed  over  the  creak 
of  new  shoes  and  the  clatter  of  a  stout 
maid  performing  a  jig  in  the  kitchen. 
One  day,  in  the  dining-room  of  a  hotel, 
a  tactual  dissonance  arrested  my  atten- 
tion. I  sat  still  and  listened  with  my 
feet.  I  found  that  two  waiters  were 
walking  back  and  forth,  but  not  with 
the  same  gait.  A  band  was  playing, 
and  I  could  feel  the  music-waves  along 




the  floor.  One  of  the  waiters  walked  in 
time  to  the  band,  graceful  and  light, 
while  the  other  disregarded  the  music 
and  rushed  from  table  to  table  to  the 
beat  of  some  discord  in  his  own  mind. 
Their  steps  reminded  me  of  a  spirited 
war-steed  harnessed  with  a  cart-horse. 

Often  footsteps  reveal  in  some  mea- 
sure the  character  and  the  mood  of  the 
walker.  I  feel  in  them  firmness  and  in- 
decision, hurry  and  deliberation,  activity 
and  laziness,  fatigue,  carelessness,  ti- 
midity, anger,  and  sorrow.  I  am  most 
conscious  of  these  moods  and  traits  in 
persons  with  whom  I  am  familiar. 

Footsteps  are  frequently  interrupted 
by  certain  jars  and  jerks,  so  that  I  know 
when  one  kneels,  kicks,  shakes  some- 
thing, sits  down,  or  gets  up.  Thus  I 
follow  to  some  extent  the  actions  of  peo- 
ple about  me  and  the  changes  of  their 



postures.  Just  now  a  thick,  soft  patter 
of  bare,  padded  feet  and  a  slight  jolt 
told  me  that  my  dog  had  jumped  on  the 
chair  to  look  out  of  the  window.  I  do 
not,  however,  allow  him  to  go  uninvesti- 
gated; for  occasionally  I  feel  the  same 
motion,  and  find  him,  not  on  the  chair, 
but  trespassing  on  the  sofa. 

When  a  carpenter  works  in  the  house 
or  in  the  barn  near  by,  I  know  by  the 
slanting,  up-and-down,  toothed  vibra- 
tion, and  the  ringing  concussion  of  blow 
upon  blow,  that  he  is  sawing  or  hammer- 
ing. If  I  am  near  enough,  a  certain 
vibration,  traveling  back  and  forth 
along  a  wooden  surface,  brings  me  the 
information  that  he  is  using  a  plane. 

A  slight  flutter  on  the  rug  tells  me 
that  a  breeze  has  blown  my  papers  off 
the  table.  A  round  thump  is  a  signal 
that  a  pencil  has  rolled  on  the  floor.    If 



a  book  falls,  it  gives  a  flat  thud.  A 
wooden  rap  on  the  balustrade  announces 
that  dinner  is  ready.  Many  of  these 
vibrations  are  obliterated  out  of  doors. 
On  a  lawn  or  the  road,  I  can  feel  only 
running,  stamping,  and  the  rumble  of 

By  placing  my  hand  on  a  person's  lips 
and  throat,  I  gain  an  idea  of  many  spe- 
cific vibrations,  and  interpret  them:  a 
boy's  chuckle,  a  man's  "Whew!"  of  sur- 
prise, the  "Hem!"  of  annoyance  or  per- 
plexity, the  moan  of  pain,  a  scream,  a 
whisper,  a  rasp,  a  sob,  a  choke,  and  a 
gasp.  The  utterances  of  animals, 
though  wordless,  are  eloquent  to  me — 
the  cat's  purr,  its  mew,  its  angry,  jerky, 
scolding  spit;  the  dog's  bow-wow  of 
warning  or  of  joyous  welcome,  its  yelp 
of  despair,  and  its  contented  snore;  the 
cow's  moo ;  a  monkey's  chatter ;  the  snort 



of  a  horse ;  the  lion's  roar,  and  the  terri- 
ble snarl  of  the  tiger.  Perhaps  I  ought 
to  add,  for  the  benefit  of  the  critics  and 
doubters  who  may  peruse  this  essay, 
that  with  my  own  hand  I  have  felt  all 
these  sounds.  From  my  childhood  to 
the  present  day  I  have  availed  myself 
of  every  opportunity  to  visit  zoological 
gardens,  menageries,  and  the  circus,  and 
all  the  animals,  except  the  tiger,  have 
talked  into  my  hand.  I  have  touched 
the  tiger  only  in  a  museum,  where  he  is 
as  harmless  as  a  lamb.  I  have,  however, 
heard  him  talk  by  putting  my  hand  on 
the  bars  of  his  cage.  I  have  touched 
several  lions  in  the  flesh,  and  felt  them 
roar  royally,  like  a  cataract  over  rocks. 

To  continue,  I  know  the  plop  of  liquid 
in  a  pitcher.  So  if  I  spill  my  milk,  I 
have  not  the  excuse  of  ignorance.  I  am 
also  familiar  with  the  pop  of  a  cork,  the 
sputter  of  a  flame,  the  tick-tack  of  the 



clock,  the  metallic  swing  of  the  wind- 
mill, the  labored  rise  and  fall  of  the 
pump,  the  voluminous  spurt  of  the  hose, 
the  deceptive  tap  of  the  breeze  at  door 
and  window,  and  many  other  vibrations 
past  computing. 

There  are  tactual  vibrations  which  do 
not  belong  to  skin-touch.  They  pene- 
trate the  skin,  the  nerves,  the  bones,  like 
pain,  heat,  and  cold.  The  beat  of  a 
drum  smites  me  through  from  the  chest 
to  the  shoulder-blades.  The  din  of  the 
train,  the  bridge,  and  grinding  ma- 
chinery retains  its  "old-man-of-the-sea" 
grip  upon  me  long  after  its  cause  has 
been  left  behind.  If  vibration  and  mo- 
tion combine  in  my  touch  for  any  length 
of  time,  the  earth  seems  to  run  away 
while  I  stand  still.  When  I  step  off  the 
train,  the  platform  whirls  round,  and  I 
find  it  difficult  to  walk  steadily. 

Every  atom  of  my  body  is  a  vibro- 
4  49 


scope.  But  my  sensations  are  not  in- 
fallible. I  reach  out,  and  my  fingers 
meet  something  furry,  which  jumps 
about,  gathers  itself  together  as  if  to 
spring,  and  acts  like  an  animal.  I  pause 
a  moment  for  caution.  I  touch  it  again 
more  firmly,  and  find  it  is  a  fur  coat  flut- 
tering and  flapping  in  the  wind.  To 
me,  as  to  you,  the  earth  seems  motion- 
less, and  the  sun  appears  to  move;  for 
the  rays  of  the  afternoon  withdraw  more 
and  more,  as  they  touch  my  face,  until 
the  air  becomes  cool.  From  this  I 
understand  how  it  is  that  the  shore  seems 
to  recede  as  you  sail  away  from  it. 
Hence  I  feel  no  incredulity  when  you 
say  that  parallel  lines  appear  to  con- 
verge, and  the  earth  and  sky  to  meet. 
My  few  senses  long  ago  revealed  to  me 
their  imperfections  and  deceptivity. 
Not  only  are  the  senses  deceptive,  but 



numerous  usages  in  our  language  indi- 
cate that  people  who  have  five  senses 
find  it  difficult  to  keep  their  functions 
distinct.  I  understand  that  we  hear 
views,  see  tones,  taste  music.  I  am  told 
that  voices  have  color.  Tact,  which  I 
had  supposed  to  be  a  matter  of  nice  per- 
ception, turns  out  to  be  a  matter  of 
taste.  Judging  from  the  large  use  of 
the  word,  taste  appears  to  be  the  most 
important  of  all  the  senses.  Taste  gov- 
erns the  great  and  small  conventions  of 
life.  Certainly  the  languagl!  i  -p  the 
senses  is  full  of  contradictions,  ancTi^y 
fellows  who  have  five  doors  to  their 
house  are  not  more  surely  at  home  in 
themselves  than  I.  May  I  not,  then,  be 
excused  if  this  account  of  my  sensations 
lacks  precision  ? 



I  have  spoken  of  the  numerous  jars 
and  jolts  which  daily  minister  to  my 
faculties.  The  loftier  and  grander 
vibrations  which  appeal  to  my  emotions 
are  varied  and  abundant.  I  listen  with 
awe  to  the'ioll  of  the  thunder  and  the 
muffled  avalanche  of  sound  when  the  sea 
flings  itself  upon  the  shore.  And  I  love 
*he  instrument  by  which  all  the  diapasons 
of  the  ocean  are  caught  and  released  in 
surging  floods — the  many- voiced  organ. 
If  music  could  be  seen,  I  could  point 
where  the  organ-notes  go,  as  they  rise 
and  fall,  climb  up  and  up,  rock  and 
sway,  now  loud  and  deep,  now  high  and 



stormy,  anon  soft  and  solemn,  with 
lighter  vibrations  interspersed  between 
and  running  across  them.  I  should  say 
that  organ-music  fills  to  an  ecstasy  the 
act  of  feeling. 

There  is  tangible  delight  in  other  in- 
struments, too.  The  violin  seems  beau- 
tifully alive  as  it  responds  to  the  lightest 
wish  of  the  master.  The  distinction  be- 
tween its  notes  is  more  delicate  than 
between  the  notes  of  the  piano. 

I  enjoy  the  music  of  the  piano  most 
when  I  touch  the  instrument.  If  I  keep 
my  hand  on  the  piano-case,  I  detect  tiny 
quavers,  returns  of  melody,  and  the  hush 
that  follows.  This  explains  to  me  how 
sound  can  die  away  to  the  listening  ear : 

.    .    .    How  thin  and  clear, 
And  thinner,  clearer,  farther  going ! 
O  sweet  and  far  from  cliff  and  scar 
The  horns  of  Elfland  faintly  blowing ! 


I  am  able  to  follow  the  dominant  spirit 
and  mood  of  the  music.  I  catch  the 
joyous  dance  as  it  bounds  over  the  keys, 
the  slow  dirge,  the  reverie.  I  thrill  to 
the  fiery  sweep  of  notes  crossed  by 
thunderous  tones  in  the  "Walkiire," 
where  Wot  an  kindles  the  dread  flames 
that  guard  the  sleeping  Brunhild. 
How  wonderful  is  the  instrument  on 
which  a  great  musician  sings  with  his 
hands!  I  have  never  succeeded  in  dis- 
tinguishing one  composition  from  an- 
other. I  think  this  is  possible;  but  the 
concentration  and  strain  upon  my  atten- 
tion would  be  so  great  that  I  doubt  if 
the  pleasure  derived  would  be  commen- 
surate to  the  effort. 

Nor  can  I  distinguish  easily  a  tune 
that  is  sung.  But  by  placing  my  hand 
on  another's  throat  and  cheek,  I  enjoy 
the  changes  of  the  voice.    I  know  when 



it  is  low  or  high,  clear  or  muffled,  sad  or 
cheery.  The  thin,  quavering  sensation 
of  an  old  voice  differs  in  my  touch  from 
the  sensation  of  a  young  voice.  A 
Southerner's  drawl  is  quite  unlike  the 
Yankee  twang.  Sometimes  the  flow 
and  ebb  of  a  voice  is  so  enchanting  that 
my  fingers  quiver  with  exquisite  plea- 
sure, even  if  I  do  not  understand  a  word 
that  is  spoken. 

On  the  other  hand,  I  am  exceedingly 
sensitive  to  the  harshness  of  noises  like 
grinding,  scraping,  and  the  hoarse  creak 
of  rusty  locks.  Fog-whistles  are  my  vi- 
bratory nightmares.  I  have  stood  near 
a  bridge  in  process  of  construction,  and 
felt  the  tactual  din,  the  rattle  of  heavy 
masses  of  stone,  the  roll  of  loosened 
earth,  the  rumble  of  engines,  the  dump- 
ing of  dirt-cars,  the  triple  blows  of  vul- 
can  hammers.    I  can  also  smell  the  fire- 



pots,  the  tar  and  cement.  So  I  have  a 
vivid  idea  of  mighty  labors  in  steel  and 
stone,  and  I  believe  that  I  am  acquainted 
with  all  the  fiendish  noises  which  can  be 
made  by  man  or  machinery.  The  whack 
of  heavy  falling  bodies,  the  sudden  shiv- 
ering splinter  of  chopped  logs,  the  crys- 
tal shatter  of  pounded  ice,  the  crash  of  a 
tree  hurled  to  the  earth  by  a  hurricane, 
the  irrational,  persistent  chaos  of  noise 
made  by  switching  freight-trains,  the 
explosion  of  gas,  the  blasting  of  stone, 
and  the  terrific  grinding  of  rock  upon 
rock  which  precedes  the  collapse — all 
these  have  been  in  my  touch-experience, 
and  contribute  to  my  idea  of  Bedlam, 
of  a  battle,  a  waterspout,  an  earthquake, 
and  other  enormous  accumulations  of 

Touch  brings  me  into  contact  with  the 
traffic  and  manifold  activity  of  the  city. 



Besides  the  bustle  and  crowding  of  peo- 
ple and  the  nondescript  grating  and 
electric  howling  of  street-cars,  I  am  con- 
scious of  exhalations  from  many  differ- 
ent kinds  of  shops;  from  automobiles, 
drays,  horses,  fruit  stands,  and  many 
varieties  of  smoke. 

Odors  strange  and  musty, 
The  air  sharp  and  dusty 
With  lime  and  with  sand, 
That  no  one  can  stand, 
Make  the  street  impassable, 
The  people  irascible, 
Until  every  one  cries, 
As  he  trembling  goes 
With  the  sight  of  his  eyes 
And  the  scent  of  his  nose 
Quite  stopped — or  at  least  much  dimin- 
"Gracious!  when  will  this  city  be  finished?"1 

1  George  Arnold. 



The  city  is  interesting;  but  the  tactual 
silence  of  the  country  is  always  most 
welcome  after  the  din  of  town  and 
the  irritating  concussions  of  the  train. 
How  noiseless  and  undisturbing  are  the 
demolition,  the  repairs  and  the  altera- 
tions, of  nature!  With  no  sound  of 
hammer  or  saw  or  stone  severed  from 
stone,  but  a  music  of  rustles  and  ripe 
thumps  on  the  grass  come  the  fluttering 
leaves  and  mellow  fruits  which  the  wind 
tumbles  all  day  from  the  branches. 
Silently  all  droops,  all  withers,  all  is 
poured  back  into  the  earth  that  it  may 
recreate ;  all  sleeps  while  the  busy  archi- 
tects of  day  and  night  ply  their  silent 
work  elsewhere.  The  same  serenity 
reigns  when  all  at  once  the  soil  yields 
up  a  newly  wrought  creation.  Softly 
the  ocean  of  grass,  moss,  and  flowers 
rolls  surge  upon  surge  across  the  earth. 



Curtains  of  foliage  drape  the  bare 
branches.  Great  trees  make  ready  in 
their  sturdy  hearts  to  receive  again  birds 
which  occupy  their  spacious  chambers 
to  the  south  and  west.  Nay,  there  is  no 
place  so  lowly  that  it  may  not  lodge 
some  happy  creature.  The  meadow 
brook  undoes  its  icy  fetters  with  rip- 
pling notes,  gurgles,  and  runs  free. 
And  all  this  is  wrought  in  less  than  two 
months  to  the  music  of  nature's  orches- 
tra, in  the  midst  of  balmy  incense. 

The  thousand  soft  voices  of  the 
earth  have  truly  found  their  way  to  me 
— the  small  rustle  in  tufts  of  grass, 
the  silky  swish  of  leaves,  the  buzz  of 
insects,  the  hum  of  bees  in  blossoms  I 
have  plucked,  the  flutter  of  a  bird's 
wings  after  his  bath,  and  the  slender 
rippling  vibration  of  water  running 
over  pebbles.     Once  having  been  felt, 




these  loved  voices  rustle,  buzz,  hum, 
flutter,  and  ripple  in  my  thought  for- 
ever, an  undying  part  of  happy  mem- 

Between  my  experiences  and  the  ex- 
periences of  others  there  is  no  gulf  of 
mute  space  which  I  may  not  bridge. 
For  I  have  endlessly  varied,  instructive 
contacts  with  all  the  world,  with  life, 
with  the  atmosphere  whose  radiant  ac- 
tivity enfolds  us  all.  The  thrilling 
energy  of  the  all-encasing  air  is  warm 
and  rapturous.  Heat-waves  and  sound- 
waves play  upon  my  face  in  infinite 
variety  and  combination,  until  I  am  able 
to  surmise  what  must  be  the  myriad 
sounds  that  my  senseless  ears  have  not 

The  air  varies  in  different  regions,  at 
different  seasons  of  the  year,  and  even 
different  hours  of  the  day.     The  odor- 



ous,  fresh  sea-breezes  are  distinct  from 
the  fitful  breezes  along  river  banks, 
which  are  humid  and  freighted  with  in- 
land smells.  The  bracing,  light,  dry  air 
of  the  mountains  can  never  be  mistaken 
for  the  pungent  salt  air  of  the  ocean. 
The  rain  of  winter  is  dense,  hard,  com- 
pressed. In  the  spring  it  has  new  vital- 
ity. It  is  light,  mobile,  and  laden  with  a 
thousand  palpitating  odors  from  earth, 
grass,  and  sprouting  leaves.  The  air  of 
midsummer  is  dense,  saturated,  or  dry 
and  burning,  as  if  it  came  from  a  fur- 
nace. When  a  cool  breeze  brushes  the 
sultry  stillness,  it  brings  fewer  odors 
than  in  May,  and  frequently  the  odor  of 
a  coming  tempest.  The  avalanche  of 
coolness  which  sweeps  through  the  low- 
hanging  air  bears  little  resemblance  to 
the  stinging  coolness  of  winter. 

The  rain  of  winter  is  raw,  without 



odor  and  dismal.  The  rain  of  spring  is 
brisk,  fragrant,  charged  with  life-giv- 
ing warmth.  I  welcome  it  delightedly 
as  it  visits  the  earth,  enriches  the  streams, 
waters  the  hills  abundantly,  makes  the 
furrows  soft  with  showers  for  the  seed, 
elicits  a  perfume  which  I  cannot  breathe 
deep  enough.  Spring  rain  is  beautiful, 
impartial,  lovable.  With  pearly  drops 
it  washes  every  leaf  on  tree  and  bush, 
ministers  equally  to  salutary  herbs  and 
noxious  growths,  searches  out  every  liv- 
ing thing  that  needs  its  beneficence. 

The  senses  assist  and  reinforce  each 
other  to  such  an  extent  that  I  am  not 
sure  whether  touch  or  smell  tells  me  the 
most  about  the  world.  Everywhere  the 
river  of  touch  is  joined  by  the  brooks 
of  odor-perception.  Each  season  has  its 
distinctive  odors.  The  spring  is  earthy 
and  full  of  sap.    July  is  rich  with  the 



odor  of  ripening  grain  and  hay.  As  the 
season  advances,  a  crisp,  dry,  mature 
odor  predominates,  and  golden-rod, 
tansy,  and  everlastings  mark  the  on- 
ward march  of  the  year.  In  autumn, 
soft,  alluring  scents  fill  the  air,  floating 
from  thicket,  grass,  flower,  and  tree, 
and  they  tell  me  of  time  and  change,  of 
death  and  life's  renewal,  desire  and  its 




For  some  inexplicable  reason  the 
sense  of  smell  does  not  hold  the 
high  position  it  deserves  among  its  sis- 
ters. There  is  something  of  the  fallen 
angel  about  it.  When  it  woos  us  with 
woodland  scents  and  beguiles  us  with 
the  fragrance  of  lovely  gardens,  it  is  ad- 
mitted frankfy  to  our  discourse.  But 
when  it  gives  us  warning  of  something 
noxious  in  our  vicinity,  it  is  treated  as  if 
the  demon  had  got  the  upper  hand  of 
the  angel,  and  is  relegated  to  outer 
darkness,  punished  for  its  faithful  ser- 
vice. It  is  most  difficult  to  keep  the  true 
significance  of  words  when  one  discusses 



the  prejudices  of  mankind,  and  I  find  it 
hard  to  give  an  account  of  odor-percep- 
tions which  shall  be  at  once  dignified 
and  truthful. 

In  my  experience  smell  is  most  im- 
portant, and  I  find  that  there  is  high 
authority  for  the  nobility  of  the  sense 
which  we  have  neglected  and  dis- 
paraged. It  is  recorded  that  the  Lord 
commanded  that  incense  be  burnt  before 
Him  continually  with  a  sweet  savor. 
I  doubt  if  there  is  any  sensation  aris- 
ing from  sight  more  delightful  than 
the  odors  which  filter  through  sun- 
warmed,  wind-tossed  branches,  or  the 
tide  of  scents  which  swells,  subsides, 
rises  again  wave  on  wave,  filling  the 
wide  world  with  invisible  sweetness.  A 
whiff  of  the  universe  makes  us  dream  of 
worlds  we  have  never  seen,  recalls  in  a 
flash  entire  epochs  of  our  dearest  ex- 
5  65 


perience.  I  never  smell  daisies  without 
living  over  again  the  ecstatic  mornings 
that  my  teacher  and  I  spent  wandering 
in  the  fields,  while  I  learned  new  words 
and  the  names  of  things.  Smell  is  a 
potent  wizard  that  transports  us  across 
a  thousand  miles  and  all  the  years  we 
have  lived.  The  odor  of  fruits  wafts  me 
to  my  Southern  home,  to  my  childish 
frolics  in  the  peach  orchard.  Other 
odors,  instantaneous  and  fleeting,  cause 
my  heart  to  dilate  joyously  or  contract 
with  remembered  grief.  Even  as  I 
think  of  smells,  my  nose  is  full  of  scents 
that  start  awake  sweet  memories  of 
summers  gone  and  ripening  grain  fields 
far  away. 

The  faintest  whiff  from  a  meadow 
where  the  new-mown  hay  lies  in  the  hot 
sun  displaces  the  here  and  the  now.  I 
am  back  again  in  the  old  red  barn.    My; 



little  friends  and  I  are  playing  in  the 
haymow.  A  huge  mow  it  is,  packed  with 
crisp,  sweet  hay,  from  the  top  of  which 
the  smallest  child  can  reach  the  straining 
rafters.  In  their  stalls  beneath  are  the 
farm  animals.  Here  is  Jerry,  unre- 
sponsive, unbeautiful  Jerry,  crunching 
his  oats  like  a  true  pessimist,  resolved  to 
find  his  feed  not  good— at  least  not  so 
good  as  it  ought  to  be.  Again  I  touch 
Brownie,  eager,  grateful  little  Brownie, 
ready  to  leave  the  juiciest  fodder  for  a 
pat,  straining  his  beautiful,  slender  neck 
for  a  caress.  Near  by  stands  Lady 
Belle,  with  sweet,  moist  mouth,  lazily 
extracting  the  sealed-up  cordial  from 
timothy  and  clover,  and  dreaming  of 
deep  June  pastures  and  murmurous 

The  sense  of  smell  has  told  me  of  a 
coming  storm  hours  before  there  was 



any  sign  of  it  visible.  I  notice  first  a 
throb  of  expectancy,  a  slight  quiver,  a 
concentration  in  my  nostrils.  As  the 
storm  draws  nearer,  my  nostrils  dilate 
the  better  to  receive  the  flood  of  earth- 
odors  which  seem  to  multiply  and  ex- 
tend, until  I  feel  the  splash  of  rain 
against  my  cheek.  As  the  tempest  de- 
parts, receding  farther  and  farther,  the 
odors  fade,  become  fainter  and  fainter, 
and  die  away  beyond  the  bar  of  space. 

I  know  by  smell  the  kind  of  house  we 
enter.  I  have  recognized  an  old-fash- 
ioned country  house  because  it  has  sev- 
eral layers  of  odors,  left  by  a  succession 
of  families,  of  plants,  perfumes,  and 

In  the  evening  quiet  there  are  fewer 
vibrations  than  in  the  daytime,  and  then 
I  rely  more  largely  upon  smell.  The 
sulphuric  scent  of  a  match  tells  me  that 



the  lamp's  are  being  lighted.  Later,  I 
note  the  wavering  trail  of  odor  that  flits 
about  and  disappears.  It  is  the  curfew 
signal;  the  lights  are  out  for  the  night. 

Out  of  doors  I  am  aware  by  smell  and 
touch  of  the  ground  we  tread  and  the 
places  we  pass.  Sometimes,  when  there 
is  no  wind,  the  odors  are  so  grouped  that 
I  know  the  character  of  the  country,  and 
can  place  a  hayfleld,  a  country  store,  a 
garden,  a  barn,  a  grove  of  pines,  a  farm- 
house with  the  windows  open. 

The  other  day  I  went  to  walk  toward 
a  familiar  wood.  Suddenly  a  disturbing 
odor  made  me  pause  in  dismay.  Then 
followed  a  peculiar,  measured  jar,  fol- 
lowed by  dull,  heavy  thunder.  I  under- 
stood the  odor  and  the  jar  only  too  well. 
The  trees  were  being  cut  down.  We 
climbed  the  stone  wall  to  the  left.  It 
borders  the  wood  which  I  have  loved  so 



long  that  it  seems  to  be  my  peculiar  pos- 
session. But  to-day  an  unfamiliar  rush 
of  air  and  an  unwonted  outburst  of  sun 
told  me  that  my  tree  friends  were  gone. 
The  place  was  empty,  like  a  deserted 
dwelling.  I  stretched  out  my  hand. 
Where  once  stood  the  steadfast  pines, 
great,  beautiful,  sweet,  my  hand  touched 
raw,  moist  stumps.  All  about  lay 
broken  branches,  like  the  antlers  of 
stricken  deer.  The  fragrant,  piled-up 
sawdust  swirled  and  tumbled  about  me. 
An  unreasoning  resentment  flashed 
through  me  at  this  ruthless  destruction 
of  the  beauty  that  I  love.  But  there  is 
no  anger,  no  resentment  in  nature.  The 
air  is  equally  charged  with  the  odors  of 
life  and  of  destruction,  for  death  equally 
with  growth  forever  ministers  to  all-con- 
quering life.  The  sun  shines  as  ever,  and 
the  winds  riot  through  the  newly  opened 


Copyright.  1807,  by  The  Whitman  Studio 

"Listening"  to  the  Trees 


spaces.  I  know  that  a  new  forest  will 
spring  where  the  old  one  stood,  as  beau- 
tiful, as  beneficent. 

Touch  sensations  are  permanent  and 
definite.  Odors  deviate  and  are  fugi- 
tive, changing  in  their  shades,  degrees, 
and  location.  There  is  something  else 
in  odor  which  gives  me  a  sense  of  dis- 
tance. I  should  call  it  horizon — the  line 
where  odor  and  fancy  meet  at  the 
farthest  limit  of  scent. 

Smell  gives  me  more  idea  than  touch 
or  taste  of  the  manner  in  which  sight 
and  hearing  probably  discharge  their 
functions.  Touch  seems  to  reside  in  the 
object  touched,  because  there  is  a  con- 
tact of  surfaces.  In  smell  there  is  no 
notion  of  relievo,  and  odor  seems  to  re- 
side not  in  the  object  smelt,  but  in  the 
organ.  Since  I  smell  a  tree  at  a  dis- 
tance, it  is  comprehensible  to  me  that  a 



person  sees  it  without  touching  it.  I 
am  not  puzzled  over  the  fact  that  he  re- 
ceives it  as  an  image  on  his  retina  with- 
out relievo,  since  my  smell  perceives  the 
tree  as  a  thin  sphere  with  no  fullness  or 
content.  By  themselves,  odors  suggest 
nothing.  I  must  learn  by  association  to 
judge  from  them  of  distance,  of  place, 
and  of  the  actions  or  the  surroundings 
which  are  the  usual  occasions  for  them, 
just  as  I  am  told  people  judge  from 
color,  light,  and  sound. 

From  exhalations  I  learn  much  about 
people.  I  often  know  the  work  they  are 
engaged  in.  The  odors  of  wood,  iron, 
paint,  and  drugs  cling  to  the  garments 
of  those  that  work  in  them.  Thus  I  can 
distinguish  the  carpenter  from  the  iron- 
worker, the  artist  from  the  mason  or  the 
chemist.  When  a  person  passes  quickly 
from  one  place  to  another  I  get  a  scent 



impression  of  where  he  has  been — the 
kitchen,  the  garden,  or  the  sick-room.  I 
gain  pleasurable  ideas  of  freshness  and 
good  taste  from  the  odors  of  soap,  toilet 
water,  clean  garments,  woolen  and  silk 
stuffs,  and  gloves. 

I  have  not,  indeed,  the  all-knowing 
scent  of  the  hound  or  the  wild  animal. 
None  but  the  halt  and  the  blind  need 
fear  my  skill  in  pursuit;  for  there  are 
other  things  besides  water,  stale  trails, 
confusing  cross  tracks  to  put  me  at 
fault.  Nevertheless,  human  odors  are 
as  varied  and  capable  of  recognition  as 
hands  and  faces.  The  dear  odors  of 
those  I  love  are  so  definite,  so  unmistak- 
able, that  nothing  can  quite  obliterate 
them.  If  many  years  should  elapse  be- 
fore I  saw  an  intimate  friend  again,  I 
think  I  should  recognize  his  odor  in- 
stantly   in    the    heart    of    Africa,    as 



promptly   as   would   my   brother   that 

Once,  long  ago,  in  a  crowded  railway 
station,  a  lady  kissed  me  as  she  hurried 
by.  I  had  not  touched  even  her  dress. 
But  she  left  a  scent  with  her  kiss  which 
gave  me  a  glimpse  of  her.  The  years 
are  many  since  she  kissed  me.  Yet  her 
odor  is  fresh  in  my  memory. 

It  is  difficult  to  put  into  words  the 
thing  itself,  the  elusive  person-odor. 
There  seems  to  be  no  adequate  vocabu- 
lary of  smells,  and  I  must  fall  back  on 
approximate  phrase  and  metaphor. 

Some  people  have  a  vague,  unsub- 
stantial odor  that  floats  about,  mocking 
every*  effort  to  identify  it.  It  is  the  will- 
o'-the-wisp  of  my  olfactive  experience. 
Sometimes  I  meet  one  who  lacks  a  dis- 
tinctive person-scent,  and  I  seldom  find' 
such  a  one  lively  or  entertaining.     On 



the  other  hand,  one  who  has  a  pungent 
odor  often  possesses  great  vitality,  en- 
ergy, and  vigor  of  mind. 

Masculine  exhalations  are  as  a  rule 
stronger,  more  vivid,  more  widely  dif- 
ferentiated than  those  of  women.  In 
the  odor  of  young  men  there  is  some- 
thing elemental,  as  of  fire,  storm,  and 
salt  sea.  It  pulsates  with  buoyancy  and 
desire.  It  suggests  all  things  strong 
and  beautiful  and  joyous,  and  gives  me 
a  sense  of  physical  happiness.  I  wonder 
if  others  observe  that  all  infants  have 
the  same  scent— pure,  simple,  unde- 
cipherable as  their  dormant  personality. 
It  is  not  until  the  age  of  six  or  seven 
that  they  begin  to  have  perceptible  indi- 
vidual odors.  These  develop  and  ma- 
ture along  with  their  mental  and  bodily 

What  I  have  written  about  smell,  es- 



pecially  person-smell,  will  perhaps  be 
regarded  as  the  abnormal  sentiment  of 
one  who  can  have  no  idea  of  the  "world 
of  reality  and  beauty  which  the  eye  per- 
ceives." There  are  people  who  are 
color-blind,  people  who*  are  tone-deaf. 
Most  people  are  smell-blind-and-deaf. 
We  should  not  condemn  a  musical  com- 
position on  the  testimony  of  an  ear 
which  cannot  distinguish  one  chord  from 
another,  or  judge  a  picture  by  the  ver- 
dict of  a  color-blind  critic.  The  sensa- 
tions of  smell  which  cheer,  inform,  and 
broaden  my  life  are  not  less  pleasant 
merely  because  some  critic  who  treads 
the  wide,  bright  pathway  of  the  eye  has 
not  cultivated  his  olf  active  sense. 
Without  the  shy,  fugitive,  often  unob- 
served, sensations  and  the  certainties 
which  taste,  smell,  and  touch  give  me,  I 
should  be  obliged  to  take  my  conception 



of  the  universe  wholly  from  others.  I 
should  lack  the  alchemy  by  which  I  now 
infuse  into  my  world  light,  color,  and 
the  Protean  spark.  The  sensuous  real- 
ity which  interthreads  and  supports  all 
the  gropings  of  my  imagination  would 
be  shattered.  The  solid  earth  would 
melt  from  under  my  feet  and  disperse 
itself  in  space.  The  objects  dear  to  my 
hands  would  become  formless,  dead 
things,  and  I  should  walk  among  them 
as  among  invisible  ghosts. 




I  was  once  without  the  sense  of  smell 
and  taste  for  several  days.  It  seemed 
incredible,  this  utter  detachment  from 
odors,  to  breathe  the  air  in  and  observe 
never  a  single  scent.  The  feeling  was 
probably  similar,  though  less  in  degree, 
to  that  of  one  who  first  loses  sight 
and  cannot  but  expect  to  see  the  light 
again  any  day,  any  minute.  I  knew  I 
should  smell  again  some  time.  Still, 
after  the  wonder  had  passed  off,  a  lone- 
liness crept  over  me  as  vast  as  the  air 
whose  myriad  odors  I  missed.  The 
multitudinous  subtle  delights  that  smell 
makes  mine  became  for  a  time  wistful 



memories.  When  I  recovered  the  lost 
sense,  my  heart  bounded  with  gladness. 
It  is  a  fine  dramatic  touch  that  Hans 
Andersen  gives  to  the  story  of  Kay  and 
Gerda  in  the  passage  about  flowers. 
Kay,  whom  the  wicked  magician's  glass 
has  blinded  to  human  love,  rushes  away 
fiercely  from  home  when  he  discovers 
that  the  roses  have  lost  their  sweetness. 
The  loss  of  smell  for  a  few  days  gave 
me  a  clearer  idea  than  I  had  ever  had 
what  it  is  to  be  blinded  suddenly,  help- 
lessly. With  a  little  stretch  of  the  im- 
agination I  knew  then  what  it  must  be 
when  the  great  curtain  shuts  out  sud- 
denly the  light  of  day,  the  stars,  and 
the  firmament  itself.  I  see  the  blind 
man's  eyes  strain  for  the  light,  as  he 
fearfully  tries  to  walk  his  old  rounds, 
until  the  unchanging  blank  that  every- 
where spreads  before  him  stamps  the 



reality  of  the  dark  upon  his  conscious- 

My  temporary  loss  of  smell  proved 
to  me,  too,  that  the  absence  of  a  sense 
need  not  dull  the  mental  faculties  and 
does  not  distort  one's  view  of  the  world, 
and  so  I  reason  that  blindness  and 
deafness  need  not  pervert  the  inner  or- 
der of  the  intellect.  I  know  that  if 
there  were  no  odors  for  me  I  should  still 
possess  a  considerable  part  of  the  world. 
Novelties  and  surprises  would  abound, 
adventures  would  thicken  in  the  dark. 

In  my  classification  of  the  senses, 
smell  is  a  little  the  ear's  inferior,  and 
touch  is  a  great  deal  the  eye's  superior. 
I  find  that  great  artists  and  philoso- 
phers agree  with"  me  in  this.  Diderot 

Je  trouvais  que  de  tous  les  sens,  l'oeil  etait 
le  plus  superficiel;  l'oreille,  le  plus  orgueil- 
leux;  l'odorat,  le  plus  voluptueux;  le  gout, 



le  plus  superstitieux  et  le  plus  inconstant ;  le 
toucher,  le  plus  profond  et  le  plus  philosophe.1 

A  friend  whom  I  have  never  seen 
sends  me  a  quotation  from  Symonds's 
"Renaissance  in  Italy" : 

Lorenzo  Ghiberti,  after  describing  a  piece 
of  antique  sculpture  he  saw  in  Rome  adds, 
"To  express  the  perfection  of  learning,  mas- 
tery, and  art  displayed  in  it  is  beyond  the 
power  of  language.  Its  more  exquisite  beau- 
ties could  not  be  discovered  by  the  sight,  but 
only  by  the  touch  of  the  hand  passed  over  it." 
Of  another  classic  marble  at  Padua  he  says, 
"This  statue,  when  the  Christian  faith  tri- 
umphed, was  hidden  in  that  place  by  some 
gentle  soul,  who,  seeing  it  so  perfect,  fash- 
ioned with  art  so  wonderful,  and  with  such 
power  of  genius,  and  being  moved  to  reverent 
pity,  caused  a  sepulchre  of  bricks  to  be  built, 
and  there  within  buried  the  statue,  and  cov- 

1 1  found  that  of  the  senses,  the  eye  is  the  most  super- 
ficial, the  ear  the  most  arrogant,  smell  the  most  volup- 
tuous, taste  the  most  superstitious  and  fickle,  touch  the 
most  profound  and  the  most  philosophical. 

«  81 


ered  it  with  a  broad  slab  of  stone,  that  it 
might  not  in  any  way  be  injured.  It  has 
very  many  sweet  beauties  which  the  eyes 
alone  can  comprehend  not,  either  by  strong 
or  tempered  light;  only  the  hand  by  touch- 
ing them  finds  them  out." 

Hold  out  your  hands  to  feel  the  lux- 
ury of  the  sunbeams.  Press  the  soft 
blossoms  against  your  cheek,  and  finger 
their  graces  of  form,  their  delicate  mu- 
tability of  shape,  their  pliancy  and 
freshness.  Expose  your  face  to  the 
aerial  floods  that  sweep  the  heavens, 
"inhale  great  draughts  of  space,"  won- 
der, wonder  at  the  wind's  unwearied 
activity.  Pile  note  on  note  the  infinite 
music  that  flows  increasingly  to  your 
soul  from  the  tactual  sonorities  of  a 
thousand  branches  and  tumbling  wa- 
ters. How  can  the  world  be  shriveled 
when   this   most   profound,    emotional 



sense,  touch,  is  faithful  to  its  service  ?  I 
am  sure  that  if  a  fairy  bade  me  choose 
between  the  sense  of  sight  and  that  of 
touch,  I  would  not  part  with  the  warm, 
endearing  contact  of  human  hands  or 
the  wealth  of  form,  the  mobility  and 
fullness  that  press  into  my  palms. 




The  poets  have  taught  us  how  full 
of  wonders  is  the  night;  and  the 
night  of  blindness  has  its  wonders,  too. 
The  only  lightless  dark  is  the  night  of 
ignorance  and  insensibility.  We  differ, 
blind  and  seeing,  one  from  another,  not 
in  our  senses,  but  in  the  use  we  make  of 
them,  in  the  imagination  and  courage 
with  which  we  seek  wisdom  beyond  our 

It  is  more  difficult  to  teach  ignorance 
to  think  than  to  teach  an  intelligent 
blind  man  to  see  the  grandeur  of  Niag- 
ara. I  have  walked  with  people  whose 
eyes  are  full  of  light,  but  who  see  noth- 



ing  in  wood,  sea,  or  sky,  nothing  in  city 
streets,  nothing  in  books.  What  a  wit- 
less masquerade  is  this  seeing!  It  were 
better  far  to  sail  forever  in  the  night  of 
blindness,  with  sense  and  feeling  and 
mind,  than  to  be  thus  content  with  the 
mere  act  of  seeing.  They  have  the  sun- 
set, the  morning  skies,  the  purple  of  dis- 
tant hills,  yet  their  souls  voyage  through 
this  enchanted  world  with  a  barren 

The  calamity  of  the  blind  is  immense, 
irreparable.  But  it  does  not  take  away 
our  share  of  the  things  that  count— ser- 
vice, friendship,  humor,  imagination, 
wisdom.  It  is  the  secret  inner  will  that 
controls  one's  fate.  We  are  capable  of 
willing  to  be  good,  of  loving  and  being 
loved,  of  thinking  to  the  end  that  we  may 
be  wiser.  We  possess  these  spirit-born 
forces  equally  with  all  God's  children. 



Therefore  we,  too,  see  the  lightnings 
and  hear  the  thunders  of  Sinai.  We, 
too,  march  through  the  wilderness  and 
the  solitary  place  that  shall  be  glad 
for  us,  and  as  we  pass,  God  maketh  the 
desert  to  blossom  like  the  rose.  We,  too, 
go  in  unto  the  Promised  Land  to  pos- 
sess the  treasures  of  the  spirit,  the  un- 
seen permanence  of  life  and  nature. 

The  blind  man  of  spirit  faces  the  un- 
known and  grapples  with  it,  and  what 
else  does  the  world  of  seeing  men  do? 
He  has  imagination,  sympathy,  human- 
ity, and  these  ineradicable  existences 
compel  him  to  share  by  a  sort  of  proxy 
in  a  sense  he  has  not.  When  he  meets 
terms  of  color,  light,  physiognomy,  he 
guesses,  divines,  puzzles  out  their  mean- 
ing by  analogies  drawn  from  the  senses 
he  has.  I  naturally  tend  to  think,  rea- 
son, draw  inferences  as  if  I  had  five 



senses  instead  of  three.  This  tendency 
is  beyond  my  control;  it  is  involuntary, 
habitual,  instinctive.  I  cannot  compel 
my  mind  to  say  "I  feel"  instead  of  "I 
see"  or  "I  hear."  The  word  "feel" 
proves  on  examination  to  be  no  less  a 
convention  than  "see"  and  "hear"  when 
I  seek  for  words  accurately  to  describe 
the  outward  things  that  affect  my  three 
bodily  senses.  When  a  man  loses  a  leg, 
his  brain  persists  in  impelling  him  to 
use  what  he  has  not  and  yet  feels  to  be 
there.  Can  it  be  that  the  brain  is  so  con- 
stituted that  it  will  continue  the  activ- 
ity which  animates  the  sight  and  the 
hearing,  after  the  eye  and  the  ear  have 
been  destroyed? 

It  might  seem  that  the  five  senses 
would  work  intelligently  together  only 
when  resident  in  the  same  body.     Yet 

when  two  or  three  are  left  unaided,  they 



reach  out  for  their  complements  in  an- 
other body,  and  find  that  they  yoke 
easily  with  the  borrowed  team.  When 
my  hand  aches  from  overtouching,  I 
find  relief  in  the  sight  of  another. 
When  my  mind  lags,  wearied  with  the 
strain  of  forcing  out  thoughts  about 
dark,  musicless,  colorless,  detached  sub- 
stance, it  recovers  its  elasticity  as  soon 
as  I  resort  to  the  powers  of  another 
mind  which  commands  light,  harmony, 
color.  Now,  if  the  five  senses  will  not 
remain  disassociated,  the  life  of  the 
deaf -blind  cannot  be  severed  from  the 
life  of  the  seeing,  hearing  race. 

The  deaf -blind  person  may  be 
plunged  and  replunged  like  Schiller's 
diver  into  seas  of  the  unknown.  But, 
unlike  the  doomed  hero,  he  returns  tri- 
umphant, grasping  the  priceless  truth 

that  his  mind  is  not  crippled,  not  limited 



to  the  infirmity  of  his  senses.  The 
world  of  the  eye  and  the  ear  becomes  to 
him  a  subject  of  fateful  interest.  He 
seizes  every  word  of  sight  and  hearing 
because  his  sensations  compel  it.  Light 
and  color,  of  which  he  has  no  tactual  evi- 
dence, he  studies  fearlessly,  believing 
that  all  humanly  knowable  truth  is  open 
to  him.  He  is  in  a  position  similar  to 
that  of  the  astronomer  who,  firm,  pa- 
tient, watches  a  star  night  after  night 
for  many  years  and  feels  rewarded  if  he 
discovers  a  single  fact  about  it.  The 
man  deaf -blind  to  ordinary  outward 
things,  and  the  man  deaf -blind  to  the 
immeasurable  universe,  are  both  limited 
by  time  and  space ;  but  they  have  made 
a  compact  to  wring  service  from  their 

The  bulk  of  the  world's  knowledge  is 

an  imaginary  construction.    History  is 



but  a  mode  of  imagining,  of  making  us 
see  civilizations  that  no  longer  appear 
upon  the  earth.  Some  of  the  most  sig- 
nificant discoveries  in  modern  science 
owe  their  origin  to  the  imagination  of 
men  who  had  neither  accurate  know- 
ledge nor  exact  instruments  to  demon- 
strate their  beliefs.  If  astronomy  had 
not  kept  always  in  advance  of  the  tele- 
scope, no  one  would  ever  have  thought 
a  telescope  worth  making.  What  great 
invention  has  not  existed  in  the  inven- 
tor's mind  long  before  he  gave  it  tangi- 
ble shape  ? 

A  more  splendid  example  of  imagin- 
ative knowledge  is  the  unity  with  which 
philosophers  start  their  study  of  the 
world.  They  can  never  perceive  the 
world  in  its  entire  reality.  Yet  their 
imagination,  with  its  magnificent  allow- 
ance for  error,  its  power  of  treating  un- 



certainty  as  negligible,  has  pointed  the 
way  for  empirical  knowledge. 

In  their  highest  creative  moments  the 
great  poet,  the  great  musician  cease  to 
use  the  crude  instruments  of  sight  and 
hearing.  They  break  away  from  their 
sense-moorings,  rise  on  strong,  compel- 
ling wings  of  spirit  far  above  our  misty 
hills  and  darkened  valleys  into  the  re- 
gion of  light,  music,  intellect. 

What  eye  hath  seen  the  glories  of  the 

New  Jerusalem?    What  ear  hath  heard 

the  music  of  the  spheres,  the  steps  of 

time,  the  strokes  of  chance,  the  blows  of 

death?    Men  have  not  heard  with  their 

physical    sense    the    tumult    of    sweet 

voices  above  the  hills  of  Judea  nor  seen 

the  heavenly  vision;  but  millions  have 

listened     to     that     spiritual     message 

through  many  ages. 

Our  blindness  changes  not  a  whit  the 



course  of  inner  realities.  Of  us  it  is 
as  true  as  it  is  of  the  seeing  that  the 
most  beautiful  world  is  always  entered 
through  the  imagination.  If  you  wish 
to  be  something  that  you  are  not, — 
something  fine,  noble,  good,— you  shut 
your  eyes,  and  for  one  dreamy  moment 
you  are  that  which  you  long  to  be. 




A  ccording  to  all  art,  all  nature,  all  co- 
x\.  herent  human  thought,  we  know 
that  order,  proportion,  form,  are  es- 
sential elements  of  beauty.  Now  order, 
proportion,  and  form,  are  palpable  to 
the  touch.  But  beauty  and  rhythm  are 
deeper  than  sense.  They  are  like  love 
and  faith.  They  spring  out  of  a  spirit- 
ual process  only  slightly  dependent 
upon  sensations.  Order,  proportion, 
form,  cannot  generate  in  the  mind  the 
abstract  idea  of  beauty,  unless  there  is 
already  a  soul  intelligence  to  breathe 
life  into  the  elements.    Many  persons, 



having  perfect  eyes,  are  blind  in  their 
perceptions.  Many  persons,  having 
perfect  ears,  are  emotionally  deaf.  Yet 
these  are  the  very  ones  who  dare  to  set 
limits  to  the  vision  of  those  who,  lack- 
ing a  sense  or  two,  have  will,  soul,  pas- 
sion, imagination.  Faith  is  a  mockery 
if  it  teaches  us  not  that  we  may  con- 
struct a  world  unspeakably  more  com- 
plete and  beautiful  than  the  material 
world.  And  I,  too,  may  construct  my 
better  world,  for  I  am  a  child  of  God, 
an  inheritor  of  a  fragment  of  the  Mind 
that  created  all  worlds. 

There  is  a  consonance  of  all  things,  a 
blending  of  all  that  we  know  about  the 
material  world  and  the  spiritual.  It 
consists  for  me  of  all  the  impressions,  vi- 
brations, heat,  cold,  taste,  smell,  and  the 
sensations  which  these   convey  to  the 

mind,  infinitely  combined,  interwoven 



with  associated  ideas  and  acquired 
knowledge.  No  thoughtful  person  will 
believe  that  what  I  said  about  the  mean- 
ings of  footsteps  is  strictly  true  of  mere 
jolts  and  jars.  It  is  an  array  of  the 
spiritual  in  certain  natural  elements, 
tactual  beats,  and  an  acquired  knowledge 
of  physical  habits  and  moral  traits  of 
highly  organized  human  beings.  What 
would  odors  signify  if  they  were  not  as- 
sociated with  the  time  of  the  year,  the 
place  I  live  in,  and  the  people  I  know? 

The  result  of  such  a  blending  is  some- 
times a  discordant  trying  of  strings  far 
removed  from  a  melody,  very  far  from 
a  symphony.  (For  the  benefit  of  those 
who  must  be  reassured,  I  will  say  that  I 
have  felt  a  musician  tuning  his  violin, 
that  I  have  read  about  a  symphony,  and 
so  have  a  fair  intellectual  perception  of 

my  metaphor.)     But  with  training  and 

.     95 


experience  the  faculties  gather  up  the 
stray  notes  and  combine  them  into  a 
full,  harmonious  whole.  If  the  person 
who  accomplishes  this  task  is  peculiarly 
gifted,  we  call  him  a  poet.  The  blind 
and  the  deaf  are  not  great  poets,  it  is 
true.  Yet  now  and  again  you  find  one 
deaf  and  blind  who  has  attained  to  his 
royal  kingdom  of  beauty. 

I  have  a  little  volume  of  poems  by  a 
deaf-blind  lady,  Madame  Bertha  Ga- 
leron.  Her  poetry  has  versatility  of 
thought.  Now  it  is  tender  and  sweet, 
now  full  of  tragic  passion  and  the  stern- 
ness of  destiny.  Victor  Hugo  called 
her  "La  Grande  Voyante."  She  has 
written  several  plays,  two  of  which 
have  been  acted  in  Paris.  The  French 
Academy  has  crowned  her  work. 

The  infinite  wonders  of  the  universe 

are  revealed  to  us  in  exact  measure  as 



we  are  capable  of  receiving  them.  The 
keenness  of  our  vision  depends  not  on 
how  much  we  can  see,  but  on  how  much 
we  feel.  Nor  yet  does  mere  know- 
ledge create  beauty.  Nature  sings  her 
most  exquisite  songs  to  those  who  love 
her.  She  does  not  unfold  her  secrets  to 
those  who  come  only  to  gratify  their  de- 
sire of  analysis,  to  gather  facts,  but  to 
those  who  see  in  her  manifold  phenom- 
ena suggestions  of  lofty,  delicate  senti- 

Am  I  to  be  denied  the  use  of  such  ad- 
jectives as  "freshness"  and  "sparkle," 
"dark"  and  "gloomy"?  I  have  walked 
in  the  fields  at  early  morning.  I  have 
felt  a  rose-bush  laden  with  dew  and  fra- 
grance. I  have  felt  the  curves  and 
graces  of  my  kitten  at  play.  I  have 
known  the  sweet,  shy  ways  of  little  chil- 
dren. I  have  known  the  sad  opposites 
7  97 


of  all  these,  a  ghastly  touch  picture. 
Remember,  I  have  sometimes  traveled 
over  a  dusty  road  as  far  as  my  feet 
could  go.  At  a  sudden  turn  I  have 
stepped  upon  starved,  ignoble  weeds, 
and  reaching  out  my  hands,  I  have 
touched  a  fair  tree  out  of  which  a  para- 
site had  taken  the  life  like  a  vampire.  I 
have  touched  a  pretty  bird  whose  soft 
wings  hung  limp,  whose  little  heart  beat 
no  more.  I  have  wept  over  the  feeble- 
ness and  deformity  of  a  child,  lame,  or 
born  blind,  or,  worse  still,  mindless.  If 
I  had  the  genius  of  Thomson,  I,  too, 
could  depict  a  "City  of  Dreadful 
Night"  from  mere  touch  sensations. 
From  contrasts  so  irreconcilable  can  we 
fail  to  form  an  idea  of  beauty  and  know 
surely  when  we  meet  with  loveliness? 
Here  is  a  sonnet  eloquent  of  a  blind 

man's  power  of  vision : 




Thou  tall,  majestic  monarch  of  the  wood, 
That  standest  where  no  wild  vines  dare  to 

Men  call  thee  old,  and  say  that  thou  hast 

A  century  upon  my  rugged  steep ; 

Yet  unto  me  thy  life  is  but  a  day, 

When  I  recall  the  things  that  I  have  seen, — 
The  forest  monarchs  that  have  passed  away 
Upon  the  spot  where  first  I  saw  thy  green ; 

For  I  am  older  than  the  age  of  man, 

Or  all  the  living  things  that  crawl  or  creep, 
Or  birds  of  air,  or  creatures  of  the  deep  ; 

I  was  the  first  dim  outline  of  God's  plan : 
Only  the  waters  of  the  restless  sea 
And  the  infinite  stars  in  heaven  are  old  to 

I  am  glad  my  friend  Mr.  Stedman 

knew  that  poem  while  he  was  making 

his  Anthology,  for  knowing  it,  so  fine  a 

poet  and  critic  could  not  fail  to  give  it  a 



place  in  his  treasure-house  of  Ameri- 
can poetry.  The  poet,  Mr.  Clarence 
Hawkes,  has  been  blind  since  childhood ; 
yet  he  finds  in  nature  hints  of  combina- 
tions for  his  mental  pictures.  Out  of 
the  knowledge  and  impressions  that 
come  to  him  he  constructs  a  masterpiece 
which  hangs  upon  the  walls  of  his 
thought.  And  into  the  poet's  house 
come  all  the  true  spirits  of  the  world. 

It  was  a  rare  poet  who  thought  of  the 
mountain  as  "the  first  dim  outline  of 
God's  plan."  That  is  the  real  wonder 
of  the  poem,  and  not  that  a  blind  man 
should  speak  so  confidently  of  sky  and 
sea.  Our  ideas  of  the  sky  are  an  accu- 
mulation of  touch-glimpses,  literary  al- 
lusions, and  the  observations  of  others, 
with  an  emotional  blending  of  all.    My 

face  feels  only  a  tiny  portion  of  the  at- 



mosphere ;  but  I  go  through  continuous 

space  and  feel  the  air  at  every  point, 

every  instant.     I  have  been  told  about 

the  distances  from  our  earth  to  the  sun, 

to  the  other  planets,  and  to  the  fixed 

stars.    I  multiply  a  thousand  times  the 

utmost  height  and  width  that  my  touch 

compasses,  and  thus  I  gain  a  deep  sense 

of  the  sky's  immensity. 

Move    me    along    constantly    over 

water,  water,  nothing  but  water,  and 

you  give  me  the  solitude,  the  vastness 

of  ocean  which  fills  the  eye.     I  have 

been  in  a  little  sail-boat  on  the  sea,  when 

the   rising   tide    swept    it    toward   the 

shore.    May  I  not  understand  the  poet's 

figure:  "The  green  of  spring  overflows 

the  earth  like  a  tide?"    I  have  felt  the 

flame  of  a  candle  blow  and  flutter  in  the 

breeze.    May  I  not,  then,  say:  "Myriads 



of   fireflies   flit   hither   and   thither   in 

the  dew-wet  grass  like  little  fluttering 


Combine  the  endless  space  of  air,  the 

sun's  warmth,  the  prevalence  of  fitful 

odors,  the  clouds  that  are  described  to 

my  understanding  spirit,  the  frequent 

breaking  through  the  soil  of  a  brook  or 

the  expanse  of  the  wind-ruffled  lake,  the 

tactual  undulation  of  the  hills,  which  I 

recall  when  I  am  far  away  from  them, 

the  towering  trees  upon  trees  as  I  walk 

by  them,  the  bearings  that  I  try  to  keep 

while  others  tell  me  the  directions  of  the 

various  points  of  the  scenery,  and  you 

will  begin  to  feel  surer  of  my  mental 

landscape.    The  utmost  bound  to  which 

my  thought  will  go  with  clearness  is  the 

horizon  of  my  mind.    From  this  horizon 

I  imagine  the  one  which  the  eye  marks. 

Touch  cannot  bridge  distance, — it  is 


fit  only  for  the  contact  of  surfaces, — 
but  thought  leaps  the  chasm.  For  this 
reason  I  am  able  to  use  words  descrip- 
tive of  objects  distant  from  my  senses. 
I  have  felt  the  rondure  of  the  infant's 
tender  form.  I  can  apply  this  percep- 
tion to  the  landscape  and  to  the  far-ofF 

I  OS 



I  have  not  touched  the  outline  of  a 
star  nor  the  glory  of  the  moon,  but 
I  believe  that  God  has  set  two  lights  in 
my  mind,  the  greater  to  rule  by  day  and 
the  lesser  by  night,  and  by  them  I  know 
that  I  am  able  to  navigate  my  life-bark, 
as  certain  of  reaching  the  haven  as  he 
who  steers  by  the  North  Star.  Perhaps 
my  sun  shines  not  as  yours.  The  colors 
that  glorify  my  world,  the  blue  of  the 
sky,  the  green  of  the  fields,  may  not  cor- 
respond exactly  with  those  you  delight 
in;  but  they  are  none  the  less  color  to 
me.     The  sun  does  not  shine  for  my 

physical  eyes,  nor  does  the  lightning 



flash,  nor  do  the  trees  turn  green  in  the 
spring;  but  they  have  not  therefore 
ceased  to  exist,  any  more  than  the  land- 
scape is  annihilated  when  you  turn  your 
back  on  it. 

I  understand  how  scarlet  can  differ 
from  crimson  because  I  know  that  the 
smell  of  an  orange  is  not  the  smell  of 
a  grape-fruit.  I  can  also  conceive  that 
colors  have  shades,  and  guess  what 
shades  are.  In  smell  and  taste  there  are 
varieties  not  broad  enough  to  be  funda- 
mental; so  I  call  them  shades.  There 
are  half  a  dozen  roses  near  me.  They 
all  have  the  unmistakable  rose  scent ;  yet 
my  nose  tells  me  that  they  are  not  the 
same.  The  American  Beauty  is  dis- 
tinct from  the  Jacqueminot  and  La 
France.  Odors  in  certain  grasses  fade 
as  really  to  my  sense  as  certain  colors  do 

to  yours  in  the  sun.    The  freshness  of  a 



flower  in  my  hand  is  analogous  to  the 
freshness  I  taste  in  an  apple  newly 
picked.  I  make  use  of  analogies  like 
these  to  enlarge  my  conceptions  of 
colors.  Some  analogies  which  I  draw 
between  qualities  in  surface  and  vibra- 
tion, taste  and  smell,  are  drawn  by 
others  between  sight,  hearing,  and 
touch.  This  fact  encourages  me  to  per- 
severe, to  try  to  bridge  the  gap  between 
the  eye  and  the  hand. 

Certainly  I  get  far  enough  to  sympa- 
thize with  the  delight  that  my  kind  feel 
in  beauty  they  see  and  harmony  they 
hear.  This  bond  between  humanity  and 
me  is  worth  keeping,  even  if  the  ideas  on 
which  I  base  it  prove  erroneous. 

Sweet,  beautiful  vibrations  exist  for 

my    touch,    even    though    they    travel 

through   other  substances  than   air  to 

reach  me.    So  I  imagine  sweet,  delight- 



f ul  sounds,  and  the  artistic  arrangement 
of  them  which  is  called  music,  and  I  re- 
member that  they  travel  through  the  air 
to  the  ear,  conveying  impressions  some- 
what like  mine.    I  also  know  what  tones 
are,  since  they  are  perceptible  tactually 
in  a  voice.    Now,  heat  varies  greatly  in 
the  sun,  in  the  fire,  in  hands,  and  in  the 
fur  of  animals;  indeed,  there  is  such  a 
thing  for  me  as  a  cold  sun.    So  I  think 
of  the  varieties  of  light  that  touch  the 
eye,  cold  and  warm,  vivid  and  dim,  soft 
and  glaring,  but  always  light,  and  I 
imagine  their  passage  through  the  air 
to  an  extensive  sense,  instead  of  to  a 
narrow  one  like  touch.     From  the  ex- 
perience I  have  had  with  voices  I  guess 
how  the  eye  distinguishes  shades  in  the 
midst  of  light.    While  I  read  the  lips  of 
a  woman  whose  voice  is  soprano,  I  note 

a  low  tone  or  a  glad  tone  in  the  midst  of 



a  high,  flowing  voice.  When  I  feel  my 
cheeks  hot,  I  know  that  I  am  red.  I 
have  talked  so  much  and  read  so  much 
about  colors  that  through  no  will  of  my 
own  I  attach  meanings  to  them,  just  as 
all  people  attach  certain  meanings  to 
abstract  terms  like  hope,  idealism, 
monotheism,  intellect,  which  cannot  be 
represented  truly  by  visible  objects,  but 
which  are  understood  from  analogies  be- 
tween immaterial  concepts  and  the 
ideas  they  awaken  of  external  things. 
The  force  of  association  drives  me  to 
say  that  white  is  exalted  and  pure,  green 
is  exuberant,  red  suggests  love  or  shame 
or  strength.  Without  the  color  or  its 
equivalent,  life  to  me  would  be  dark, 
barren,  a  vast  blackness. 

Thus  through  an  inner  law  of  com- 
pleteness my  thoughts  are  not  permitted 

to  remain  colorless.    It  strains  my  mind 



to  separate  color  and  sound  from  ob- 
jects. Since  my  education  began  I  have 
always  had  things  described  to  me  with 
their  colors  and  sounds  by  one  with  keen 
senses  and  a  fine  feeling  for  the  signifi- 
cant. Therefore  I  habitually  think  of 
things  as  colored  and  resonant.  Habit 
accounts  for  part.  The  soul  sense  ac- 
counts for  another  part.  The  brain  with 
its  five-sensed  construction  asserts  its 
right  and  accounts  for  the  rest.  Inclu- 
sive of  all,  the  unity  of  the  world  de- 
mands that  color  be  kept  in  it,  whether  I 
have  cognizance  of  it  or  not.  Rather 
than  be  shut  out,  I  take  part  in  it  by  dis- 
cussing it,  imagining  it,  happy  in  the 
happiness  of  those  near  me  who  gaze  at 
the  lovely  hues  of  the  sunset  or  the  rain- 

My  hand  has  its  share  in  this  multiple 

knowledge,  but  it  must  never  be  f  orgot- 



ten  that  with  the  fingers  I  see  only  a 
very  small  portion  of  a  surface,  and  that 
I  must  pass  my  hand  continually  over  it 
before  my  touch  grasps  the  whole.  It 
is  still  more  important,  however,  to  re- 
member that  my  imagination  is  not 
tethered  to  certain  points,  locations,  and 
distances.  It  puts  all  the  parts  together 
simultaneously  as  if  it  saw  or  knew  in- 
stead of  feeling  them.  Though  I  feel 
only  a  small  part  of  my  horse  at  a  time, 
— my  horse  is  nervous  and  does  not  sub- 
mit to  manual  explorations,— yet,  be- 
cause I  have  many  times  felt  hock,  nose, 
hoof  and  mane,  I  can  see  the  steeds  of 
Phoebus  Apollo  coursing  the  heavens. 

With  such  a  power  active  it  is  impos- 
sible that  my  thought  should  be  vague, 
indistinct.  It  must  needs  be  potent, 
definite.  This  is  really  a  corollary  of 
the   philosophical   truth   that   the   real 



world  exists  only  for  the  mind.  That  is 
to  say,  I  can  never  touch  the  world  in  its 
entirety;  indeed,  I  touch  less  of  it  than 
the  portion  that  others  see  or  hear.  But 
all  creatures,  all  objects,  pass  into  my 
brain  entire,  and  occupy  the  same  extent 
there  that  they  do  in  material  space.  I 
declare  that  for  me  branched  thoughts, 
instead  of  pines,  wave,  sway,  rustle, 
make  musical  the  ridges  of  mountains 
rising  summit  upon  summit.  Mention 
a  rose  too  far  away  for  me  to  smell  it. 
Straightway  a  scent  steals  into  my  nos- 
tril, a  form  presses  against  my  palm  in 
all  its  dilating  softness,  with  rounded 
petals,  slightly  curled  edges,  curving 
stem,  leaves  drooping.  When  I  would 
fain  view  the  world  as  a  whole,  it  rushes 
into  vision— man,  beast,  bird,  reptile, 
fly,  sky,  ocean,  mountains,  plain,  rock, 
pebble.    The  warmth  of  life,  the  reality 



of  creation  is  over  all— the  throb  of 
human  hands,  glossiness  of  fur,  lithe 
windings  of  long  bodies,  poignant  buzz- 
ing of  insects,  the  ruggedness  of  the 
steeps  as  I  climb  them,  the  liquid  mobil- 
ity and  boom  of  waves  upon  the  rocks. 
Strange  to  say,  try  as  I  may,  I  cannot 
force  my  touch  to  pervade  this  universe 
in  all  directions.  The  moment  I  try,  the 
whole  vanishes;  only  small  objects  or 
narrow  portions  of  a  surface,  mere 
touch-signs,  a  chaos  of  things  scattered 
at  random,  remain.  No  thrill,  no  de- 
light is  excited  thereby.  Restore  to  the 
artistic,  comprehensive  internal  sense  its 
rightful  domain,  and  you  give  me  joy 
which  best  proves  the  reality. 




Before  my  teacher  came  to  me,  I  did 
1  not  know  that  I  am.  I  lived  in  a 
world  that  was  a  no-world.  I  cannot 
hope  to  describe  adequately  that  uncon- 
scious, yet  conscious  time  of  nothing- 
ness. I  did  not  know  that  I  knew 
aught,  or  that  I  lived  or  acted  or  de- 
sired. I  had  neither  will  nor  intellect. 
I  was  carried  along  to  objects  and  acts 
by  a  certain  blind  natural  impetus.  I 
had  a  mind  which  caused  me  to  feel 
anger,  satisfaction,  desire.  These  two 
facts  led  those  about  me  to  suppose  that 
I  willed  and  thought.  I  can  remember 
all  this,  not  because  I  knew  that  it  was 
8  113 


so,  but  because  I  have  tactual  memory. 
It  enables  me  to  remember  that  I  never 
contracted  my  forehead  in  the  act  of 
thinking.  I  never  viewed  anything  be- 
forehand or  chose  it.  I  also  recall  tactu- 
ally  the  fact  that  never  in  a  start  of  the 
body  or  a  heart-beat  did  I  feel  that  I 
loved  or  cared  for  anything.  My  inner 
life,  then,  was  a  blank  without  past, 
present,  or  future,  without  hope  or  an- 
ticipation, without  wonder  or  joy  or 

It  was  not  night — it  was  not  day, 

•  ••••• 

But  vacancy  absorbing  space, 

And  fixedness,  without  a  place ; 

There  were  no  stars — no  earth — no  time — 

No  check — no  change — no  good — no  crime. 

My  dormant  being  had  no  idea  of 
God  or  immortality,  no  fear  of  death. 



I  remember,  also  through  touch,  that 
I  had  a  power  of  association.  I  felt- 
tactual  jars  like  the  stamp  of  a  foot,  the 
opening  of  a  window  or  its  closing,  the 
slam  of  a  door.  After  repeatedly  smell- 
ing rain  and  feeling  the  discomfort  of 
wetness,  I  acted  like  those  about  me:  I 
ran  to  shut  the  window.  But  that  was 
not  thought  in  any  sense.  It  was  the 
same  kind  of  association  that  makes  ani- 
mals take  shelter  from  the  rain.  From 
the  same  instinct  of  aping  others,  I 
folded  the  clothes  that  came  from  the 
laundry,  and  put  mine  away,  fed  the 
turkeys,  sewed  bead-eyes  on  my  doll's 
face,  and  did  many  other  things  of 
which  I  have  the  tactual  remembrance. 
When  I  wanted  anything  I  liked, — ice- 
cream, for  instance,  of  which  I  was  verv 
fond, — I  had  a  delicious  taste  on  my 
tongue  (which,  by  the  way,  I  never  have 



now) ,  and  in  my  hand  I  felt  the  turning 
of  the  freezer.  I  made  the  sign,  and  my 
mother  knew  I  wanted  ice-cream.  I 
"thought"  and  desired  in  my  fingers. 
If  I  had  made  a  man,  I  should  certainly 
have  put  the  brain  and  soul  in  his  finger- 
tips. From  reminiscences  like  these  I 
conclude  that  it  is  the  opening  of  the 
two  faculties,  freedom  of  will,  or  choice, 
and  rationality,  or  the  power  of  think- 
ing from  one  thing  to  another,  which 
makes  it  possible  to  come  into  being  first 
as  a  child,  afterward  as  a  man. 

Since  I  had  no  power  of  thought,  I 
did  not  compare  one  mental  state  with 
another.  So  I  was  not  conscious  of  any 
change  or  process  going  on  in  my  brain 
when  my  teacher  began  to  instruct  me. 
I  merely  felt  keen  delight  in  obtaining 
more  easily  what  I  wanted  by  means  of 
the  finger  motions  she  taught  me.     I 



thought  only  of  objects,  and  only  ob- 
jects I  wanted.  It  was  the  turning  of 
the  freezer  on  a  larger  scale.  When  I 
learned  the  meaning  of  "I"  and  "me" 
and  found  that  I  was  something,  I 
began  to  think.  Then  consciousness 
first  existed  for  me.  Thus  it  was  not 
the  sense  of  touch  that  brought  me 
knowledge.  It  was  the  awakening  of 
my  soul  that  first  rendered  my  senses 
their  value,  their  cognizance  of  ob- 
jects, names,  qualities,  and  properties. 
Thought  made  me  conscious  of  love, 
joy,  and  all  the  emotions.  I  was  eager 
to  know,  then  to  understand,  afterward 
to  reflect  on  what  I  knew  and  under- 
stood, and  the  blind  impetus,  which  had 
before  driven  me  hither  and  thither  at 
the  dictates  of  my  sensations,  vanished 

I  cannot  represent  more  clearly  than 


any  one  else  the  gradual  and  subtle 
changes  from  first  impressions  to  ab- 
stract ideas.  But  I  know  that  my 
physical  ideas,  that  is,  ideas  derived 
from  material  objects,  appear  to  me 
first  in  ideas  similar  to  those  of  touch. 
Instantly  they  pass  into  intellectual 
meanings.  Afterward  the  meaning 
finds  expression  in  what  is  called  "inner 
speech."  When  I  was  a  child,  my  inner 
speech  was  inner  spelling.  Although  I 
am  even  now  frequently  caught  spell- 
ing to  myself  on  my  fingers,  yet  I  talk 
to  myself,  too,  with  my  lips,  and  it  is 
true  that  when  I  first  learned  to  speak, 
my  mind  discarded  the  finger-symbols 
and  began  to  articulate.  However, 
when  I  try  to  recall  what  some  one  has 
said  to  me,  I  am  conscious  of  a  hand 
spelling  into  mine. 

It  has  often  been  asked  what  were 



my  earliest  impressions  of  the  world  in 
which  I  found  myself.  But  one  who 
thinks  at  all  of  his  first  impressions  knows 
what  a  riddle  this  is.  Our  impressions 
grow  and  change  unnoticed,  so  that 
what  we  suppose  we  thought  as  children 
may  be  quite  different  from  what  we 
actually  experienced  in  our  childhood. 
I  only  know  that  after  my  education 
began  the  world  which  came  within  my 
reach  was  all  alive.  I  spelled  to  my 
blocks  and  my  dogs.  I  sympathized 
with  plants  when  the  flowers  were 
picked,  because  I  thought  it  hurt  them, 
and  that  they  grieved  for  their  lost  blos- 
soms. It  was  years  before  I  could  be 
made  to  believe  that  my  dogs  did  not 
understand  what  I  said,  and  I  always 
apologized  to  them  when  I  ran  into  or 
stepped  on  them. 

As  my   experiences   broadened   and 



deepened,  the  indeterminate,  poetic 
feelings  of  childhood  began  to  fix  them- 
selves in  definite  thoughts.  Nature— 
the  world  I  could  touch— was  folded 
and  filled  with  myself.  I  am  inclined  to 
believe  those  philosophers  who  declare 
that  we  know  nothing  but  our  own  feel- 
ings and  ideas.  With  a  little  ingenious 
reasoning  one  may  see  in  the  material 
world  simply  a  mirror,  an  image  of  per- 
manent mental  sensations.  In  either 
sphere  self-knowledge  is  the  condition 
and  the  limit  of  our  consciousness.  That 
is  why,  perhaps,  many  people  know 
so  little  about  what  is  beyond  their 
short  range  of  experience.  They  look 
within  themselves — and  find  nothing! 
Therefore  they  conclude  that  there  is 
nothing  outside  themselves,  either. 

However  that  may  be,  I  came  later  to 
look  for  an  image  of  my  emotions  and 



sensations  in  others.  I  had  to  learn  the 
outward  signs  of  inward  feelings.  The 
start  of  fear,  the  suppressed,  controlled 
tensity  of  pain,  the  beat  of  happy  mus- 
cles in  others,  had  to  be  perceived  and 
compared  with  my  own  experiences  be- 
fore I  could  trace  them  back  to  the  in- 
tangible soul  of  another.  Groping,  un- 
certain, I  at  last  found  my  identity,  and 
after  seeing  my  thoughts  and  feelings 
repeated  in  others,  I  gradually  con- 
structed my  world  of  men  and  of  God. 
As  I  read  and  study,  I  find  that  this  is 
what  the  rest  of  the  race  has  done.  Man 
looks  within  himself  and  in  time  finds 
the  measure  and  the  meaning  of  the  uni- 




So,  in  the  midst  of  life,  eager,  im- 
perious life,  the  deaf -blind  child, 
fettered  to  the  bare  rock  of  circum- 
stance, spider-like,  sends  out  gossamer 
threads  of  thought  into  the  measureless 
void  that  surrounds  him.  Patiently  he 
explores  the  dark,  until  he  builds  up  a 
knowledge  of  the  world  he  lives  in,  and 
his  soul  meets  the  beauty  of  the  world, 
where  the  sun  shines  always,  and  the 
birds  sing.  To  the  blind  child  the  dark 
is  kindly.  In  it  he  finds  nothing  extra- 
ordinary or  terrible.  It  is  his  familiar 
world;  even  the  groping  from  place  to 
place,  the  halting  steps,  the  dependence 



upon  others,  do  not  seem  strange  to  him. 
He  does  not  know  how  many  countless 
pleasures  the  dark  shuts  out  from  him. 
Not  until  he  weighs  his  life  in  the  scale 
of  others'  experience  does  he  realize 
what  it  is  to  live  forever  in  the  dark. 
But  the  knowledge  that  teaches  him  this 
bitterness  also  brings  its  consolation — 
spiritual  light,  the  promise  of  the  day 
that  shall  be. 

The  blind  child — the  deaf -blind  child 
— has  inherited  the  mind  of  seeing  and 
hearing  ancestors — a  mind  measured  to 
five  senses.  Therefore  he  must  be  influ- 
enced, even  if  it  be  unknown  to  himself, 
by  the  light,  color,  song  which  have  been 
transmitted  through  the  language  he  is 
taught,  for  the  chambers  of  the  mind 
are  ready  to  receive  that  language.  The 
brain  of  the  race  is  so  permeated  with 
color  that  it  dyes  even  the  speech  of  the 



blind.  Every  object  I  think  of  is 
stained  with  the  hue  that  belongs  to  it 
by  association  and  memory.  The  ex- 
perience of  the  deaf -blind  person,  in  a 
world  of  seeing,  hearing  people,  is  like 
that  of  a  sailor  on  an  island  where  the 
inhabitants  speak  a  language  unknown 
to  him,  whose  life  is  unlike  that  he  has 
lived.  He  is  one,  they  are  many;  there 
is  no  chance  of  compromise.  He  must 
learn  to  see  with  their  eyes,  to  hear  with 
their  ears,  to  think  their  thoughts,  to 
follow  their  ideals. 

If  the  dark,  silent  world  which  sur- 
rounds him  were  essentially  different 
from  the  sunlit,  resonant  world,  it  would 
be  incomprehensible  to  his  kind,  and 
could  never  be  discussed.  If  his  feel- 
ings and  sensations  were  fundamentally 
different  from  those  of  others,  they 
would  be  inconceivable  except  to  those 



who  had  similar  sensations  and  feelings. 
If  the  mental  consciousness  of  the  deaf- 
blind  person  were  absolutely  dissimilar 
to  that  of  his  fellows,  he  would  have  no 
means  of  imagining  what  they  think. 
Since  the  mind  of  the  sightless  is  essen- 
tially the  same  as  that  of  the  seeing  in 
that  it  admits  of  no  lack,  it  must  supply 
some  sort  of  equivalent  for  missing  phy- 
sical sensations.  It  must  perceive  a  like- 
ness between  things  outward  and  things 
inward,  a  correspondence  between  the 
seen  and  the  unseen.  I  make  use  of 
such  a  correspondence  in  many  rela- 
tions, and  no  matter  how  far  I  pursue 
it  to  things  I  cannot  see,  it  does  not 
break  under  the  test. 

As  a  working  hypothesis,  correspond- 
ence is  adequate  to  all  life,  through  the 
whole  range  of  phenomena.  The  flash  of 
thought  and  its  swiftness  explain  the 



lightning  flash  and  the  sweep  of  a  comet 
through  the  heavens.  My  mental  sky 
opens  to  me  the  vast  celestial  spaces,  and 
I  proceed  to  fill  them  with  the  images  of 
my  spiritual  stars.  I  recognize  truth  by 
the  clearness  and  guidance  that  it  gives 
my  thought,  and,  knowing  what  that 
clearness  is,  I  can  imagine  what  light  is 
to  the  eye.  It  is  not  a  convention  of 
language,  but  a  forcible  feeling  of  the 
reality,  that  at  times  makes  me  start 
when  I  say,  "Oh,  I  see  my  mistake!"  or 
"How  dark,  cheerless  is  his  life!"  I 
know  these  are  metaphors.  Still,  I  must 
prove  with  them,  since  there  is  nothing 
in  our  language  to  replace  them.  Deaf- 
blind  metaphors  to  correspond  do  not 
exist  and  are  not  necessary.  Because 
I  can  understand  the  word  "reflect" 
figuratively,  a  mirror  has  never  per- 
plexed me.     The  manner  in  which  my 


Copyright,  1907.  by  The  Whitman  Studio 

The  Medallion 

The  bas-relief  on  the  wall  is  a  portrait  of  the  Queen  Dowager 
of   Spain    which  Her    Majesty   had    made  for   Miss    Keller 


imagination  perceives  absent  things  en- 
ables me  to  see  how  glasses  can  magnify 
things,  bring  them  nearer,  or  remove 
them  farther. 

Deny  me  this  correspondence,  this  in- 
ternal sense,  confine  me  to  the  fragmen- 
tary, incoherent  touch- world,  and  lo,  I 
become  as  a  bat  which  wanders  about  on 
the  wing.  Suppose  I  omitted  all  words 
of  seeing,  hearing,  color,  light,  land- 
scape, the  thousand  phenomena,  instru- 
ments and  beauties  connected  with  them. 
I  should  suffer  a  great  diminution  of 
the  wonder  and  delight  in  attaining 
knowledge;  also— more  dreadful  loss— 
my  emotions  would  be  blunted,  so  that  I 
could  not  be  touched  by  things  unseen. 

Has  anything  arisen  to  disprove  the 
adequacy  of  correspondence  ?  Has  any 
chamber  of  the  blind  man's  brain  been 
opened  and  found  empty?    Has   any 



psychologist  explored  the  mind  of  the 
sightless  and  been  able  to  say,  "There  is 
no  sensation  here?" 

I  tread  the  solid  earth;  I  breathe  the 
scented  air.  Out  of  these  two  experi- 
ences I  form  numberless  associations 
and  correspondences.  I  observe,  I  feel, 
I  think,  I  imagine.  I  associate  the 
countless  varied  impressions,  expe- 
riences, concepts.  Out  of  these  mate- 
rials Fancy,  the  cunning  artisan  of  the 
brain,  welds  an  image  which  the  skeptic 
would  deny  me,  because  I  cannot  see 
with  my  physical  eyes  the  changeful, 
lovely  face  of  my  thought-child.  He 
would  break  the  mind's  mirror.  This 
spirit- vandal  would  humble  my  soul  and 
force  me  to  bite  the  dust  of  material 
things.  While  I  champ  the  bit  of  cir- 
cumstance, he  scourges  and  goads  me 
with  the  spur  of  fact.    If  I  heeded  him, 



the  sweet-visaged  earth  would  vanish 
into  nothing,  and  I  should  hold  in  my 
hand  nought  but  an  aimless,  soulless 
lump  of  dead  matter.  But  although  the 
body  physical  is  rooted  alive  to  the  Pro- 
methean rock,  the  spirit-proud  huntress 
of  the  air  will  still  pursue  the  shining, 
open  highways  of  the  universe. 

Blindness  has  no  limiting  effect  upon 
mental  vision.  My  intellectual  horizon 
is  infinitely  wide.  The  universe  it  en- 
circles is  immeasurable.  Would  they 
who  bid  me  keep  within  the  narrow 
bound  of  my  meager  senses  demand  of 
Herschel  that  he  roof  his  stellar  universe 
and  give  us  back  Plato's  solid  firmament 
of  glassy  spheres?  Would  they  com- 
mand Darwin  from  the  grave  and  bid 
him  blot  out  his  geological  time,  give  us 
back  a  paltry  few  thousand  years  ?  Oh. 
the  supercilious  doubters!  They  ever 
0  129 


strive  to  clip  the  upward  daring  wings 
of  the  spirit. 

A  person  deprived  of  one  or  more 
senses  is  not,  as  many  seem  to  think, 
turned  out  into  a  trackless  wilderness 
without  landmark  or  guide.  The  blind 
man  carries  with  him  into  his  dark  en- 
vironment all  the  faculties  essential  to 
the  apprehension  of  the  visible  world 
whose  door  is  closed  behind  him.  He 
finds  his  surroundings  everywhere  homo- 
geneous with  those  of  the  sunlit  world ; 
for  there  is  an  inexhaustible  ocean  of 
likenesses  between  the  world  within,  and 
the  world  without,  and  these  likenesses, 
these  correspondences,  he  finds  equal  to 
every  exigency  his  life  offers. 

The  necessity  of  some  such  thing  as 
correspondence  or  symbolism  appears 
more  and  more  urgent  as  we  consider 
the  duties  that  religion  and  philosophy 
enjoin  upon  us. 



The  blind  are  expected  to  read  the 
Bible  as  a  means  of  attaining  spiritual 
happiness.  Now,  the  Bible  is  filled 
throughout  with  references  to  clouds, 
stars,  colors,  and  beauty,  and  often  the 
mention  of  these  is  essential  to  the  mean- 
ing of  the  parable  or  the  message  in 
which  they  occur.  Here  one  must  needs 
see  the  inconsistency  of  people  who  be- 
lieve in  the  Bible,  and  yet  deny  us  a 
right  to  talk  about  what  we  do  not  see, 
and  for  that  matter  what  they  do  not 
see,  either.  Who  shall  forbid  my  heart 
to  sing:  "Yea,  he  did  fly  upon  the  wings 
of  the  wind.  He  made  darkness  his 
secret  place;  His  pavilion  round  about 
him  were  dark  waters  and  thick  clouds 
of  the  skies." 

Philosophy  constantly  points  out  the 
untrust worthiness  of  the  five  senses  and 
the  important  work  of  reason  which  cor- 
rects the  errors  of  sight  and  reveals  its 



illusions.  If  we  cannot  depend  on  five 
senses,  how  much  less  may  we  rely  on 
three!  What  ground  have  we  for  dis- 
carding light,  sound,  and  color  as  an  in- 
tegral part  of  our  world?  How  are  we 
to  know  that  they  have  ceased  to  exist 
for  us?  We  must  take  their  reality  for 
granted,  even  as  the  philosopher  as- 
sumes the  reality  of  the  world  without 
being  able  to  see  it  physically  as  a  whole. 
Ancient  philosophy  offers  an  argu- 
ment which  seems  still  valid.  There  is 
in  the  blind  as  in  the  seeing  an  Absolute 
which  gives  truth  to  what  we  know  to  be 
true,  order  to  what  is  orderly,  beauty  to 
the  beautiful,  touchableness  to  what  is 
tangible.  If  this  is  granted,  it  follows 
that  this  Absolute  is  not  imperfect,  in- 
complete, partial.  It  must  needs  go  be- 
yond the  limited  evidence  of  our  sensa- 
tions, and  also  give  light  to  what  is  in- 



visible,  music  to  the  musical  that  silence 
dulls.  Thus  mind  itself  compels  us  to 
acknowledge  that  we  are  in  a  world  of 
intellectual  order,  beauty,  and  harmony. 
The  essences,  or  absolutes  of  these  ideas, 
necessarily  dispel  their  opposites  which 
belong  with  evil,  disorder,  and  discord. 
Thus  deafness  and  blindness  do  not  ex- 
ist in  the  immaterial  mind,  which  is  philo- 
sophically the  real  world,  but  are  ban- 
ished with  the  perishable  material  senses. 
Reality,  of  which  visible  things  are  the 
symbol,  shines  before  my  mind.  While 
I  walk  about  my  chamber  with  unsteady 
steps,  my  spirit  sweeps  skyward  on 
eagle  wings  and  looks  out  with  un- 
quenchable vision  upon  the  world  of 
eternal  beauty. 




Everybody  takes  his  own  dreams  se- 
riously, but  yawns  at  the  breakfast- 
table  when  somebody  else  begins  to  tell 
the  adventures  of  the  night  before.  I 
hesitate,  therefore,  to  enter  upon  an  ac- 
count of  my  dreams ;  for  it  is  a  literary 
sin  to  bore  the  reader,  and  a  scientific  sin 
to  report  the  facts  of  a  far  country  with 
more  regard  to  point  and  brevity  than 
to  complete  and  literal  truth.  The  psy- 
chologists have  trained  a  pack  of  theo- 
ries and  facts  which  they  keep  in  leash, 
like  so  many  bulldogs,  and  which  they 
let  loose  upon  us  whenever  we  depart 
from  the   strait   and  narrow   path  of 



dream  probability.  One  may  not  even 
tell  an  entertaining  dream  without  be- 
ing suspected  of  having  liberally  edited 
it, — as  if  editing  were  one  of  the  seven 
deadly  sins,  instead  of  a  useful  and 
honorable  occupation!  Be  it  under- 
stood, then,  that  I  am  discoursing  at  my 
own  breakfast-table,  and  that  no  scien- 
tific man  is  present  to  trip  the  autocrat. 
I  used  to  wonder  why  scientific  men 
and  others  were  always  asking  me  about 
my  dreams.  But  I  am  not  surprised 
now,  since  I  have  discovered  what  some 
of  them  believe  to  be  the  ordinary  wak- 
ing experience  of  one  who  is  both  deaf 
and  blind.  They  think  that  I  can  know 
very  little  about  objects  even  a  few  feet 
beyond  the  reach  of  my  arms.  Every- 
thing outside  of  myself,  according  to 
them,  is  a  hazy  blur.  Trees,  mountains, 
cities,  the  ocean,  even  the  house  I  live  in 



are  but  fairy  fabrications,  misty  unreal- 
ities. Therefore  it  is  assumed  that  my 
dreams  should  have  peculiar  interest  for 
the  man  of  science.  In  some  undefined 
way  it  is  expected  that  they  should  re- 
veal the  world  I  dwell  in  to  be  flat, 
formless,  colorless,  without  perspective, 
with  little  thickness  and  less  solidity— a 
vast  solitude  of  soundless  space.  But 
who  shall  put  into  words  limitless, 
visionless,  silent  void  ?  One  should  be  a 
disembodied  spirit  indeed  to  make  any- 
thing out  of  such  insubstantial  experi- 
ences. A  world,  or  a  dream  for  that 
matter,  to  be  comprehensible  to  us, 
must,  I  should  think,  have  a  warp  of 
substance  woven  into  the  woof  of  fan- 
tasy. We  cannot  imagine  even  in 
dreams  an  object  which  has  no  counter- 
part in  reality.  Ghosts  always  resemble 
somebody,  and  if  they  do  not  appear 



themselves,  their  presence  is  indicated 
by  circumstances  with  which  we  are  per- 
fectly familiar. 

During  sleep  we  enter  a  strange, 
mysterious  realm  which  science  has 
thus  far  not  explored.  Beyond  the 
border-line  of  slumber  the  investigator 
may  not  pass  with  his  common-sense 
rule  and  test.  Sleep  with  softest  touch 
locks  all  the  gates  of  our  physical  senses 
and  lulls  to  rest  the  conscious  will 
— the  disciplinarian  of  our  waking 
thoughts.  Then  the  spirit  wrenches  it- 
self free  from  the  sinewy  arms  of  rea- 
son and  like  a  winged  courser  spurns 
the  firm  green  earth  and  speeds  away 
upon  wind  and  cloud,  leaving  neither 
trace  nor  footprint  by  which  science 
may  track  its  flight  and  bring  us 
knowledge  of  the  distant,  shadowy 
country  that  we  nightly  visit.     When 



we  come  back  from  the  dream-realm, 
we  can  give  no  reasonable  report  of 
what  we  met  there.  But  once  across 
the  border,  we  feel  at  home  as  if  we 
had  always  lived  there  and  had  never 
made  any  excursions  into  this  rational, 
daylight  world. 

I  My  dreams  do  not  seem  to  differ  very 
much  from  the  dreams  of  other  people. 
Some  of  them  are  coherent  and  safely 
hitched  to  an  event  or  a  conclusion. 
Others  are  inconsequent  and  fantastic. 
All  attest  that  in  Dreamland  there  is  no 
such  thing  as  repose.  We  are  always 
up  and  doing  with  a  mind  for  any  ad- 
venture. We  act,  strive,  think,  suffer, 
and  are  glad  to  no  purpose.  We  leave 
outside  the  portals  of  Sleep  all  trouble- 
some incredulities  and  vexatious  specu- 
lations as  to  probability.  I  float  wraith- 
like upon  clouds  in  and  out  among  the 



winds,  without  the  faintest  notion  that  I 
am  doing  anything  unusual.  In  Dream- 
land I  find  little  that  is  altogether  strange 
or  wholly  new  to  my  experience.  No 
matter  what  happens,  I  am  not  aston- 
ished, however  extraordinary  the  circum- 
stances may  be.  I  visit  a  foreign  land 
where  I  have  not  been  in  reality,  and  I 
converse  with  peoples  whose  language  I 
have  never  heard.  Yet  we  manage  to 
understand  each  other  perfectly.  Into 
whatsoever  situation  or  society  my  wan- 
derings bring  me,  there  is  the  same 
homogeneity.  If  I  happen  into  Vaga- 
bondia,  I  make  merry  with  the  jolly 
folk  of  the  road  or  the  tavern. 

I  do  not  remember  ever  to  have  met 
persons  with  whom  I  could  not  at  once 
communicate,  or  to  have  been  shocked 
or  surprised  at  the  doings  of  my  dream- 
companions.   In  its  strange  wanderings 



in  those  dusky  groves  of  Slumberland 
my  soul  takes  everything  for  granted 
and  adapts  itself  to  the  wildest  phan- 
toms. I  am  seldom  confused.  Every- 
thing is  as  clear  as  day.  I  know  events 
the  instant  they  take  place,  and  wher- 
ever I  turn  my  steps,  Mind  is  my  faith- 
ful guide  and  interpreter. 

I  suppose  every  one  has  had  in  a 
dream  the  exasperating,  profitless  ex- 
perience of  seeking  something  urgently 
desired  at  the  moment,  and  the  aching, 
weary  sensation  that  follows  each  fail- 
ure to  track  the  thing  to  its  hiding- 
place.  Sometimes  with  a  singing  dizzi- 
ness in  my  head  I  climb  and  climb,  I 
know  not  where  or  why.  Yet  I  cannot 
quit  the  torturing,  passionate  endeavor, 
though  again  and  again  I  reach  out 
blindly  for  an  object  to  hold  to.  Of 
course  according  to  the  perversity  of 



dreams  there  is  no  object  near.  I  clutch 
empty  air,  and  then  I  fall  downward, 
and  still  downward,  and  in  the  midst  of 
the  fall  I  dissolve  into  the  atmosphere 
upon  which  I  have  been  floating  so  pre- 

Some  of  my  dreams  seem  to  be  traced 
one  within  another  like  a  series  of  con- 
centric circles.  In  sleep  I  think  I  can- 
not sleep.  I  toss  about  in  the  toils  of 
tasks  unfinished.  I  decide  to  get  up 
and  read  for  a  while.  I  know  the  shelf 
in  my  library  where  I  keep  the  book  I 
want.  The  book  has  no  name,  but  I 
find  it  without  difficulty.  I  settle  my- 
self comfortably  in  the  morris-chair,  the 
great  book  open  on  my  knee.  Not  a 
word  can  I  make  out,  the  pages  are  ut- 
terly blank.  I  am  not  surprised,  but 
keenly  disappointed.  I  finger  the 
pages,  I  bend  over  them  lovingly,  the 



tears  fall  on  my  hands.  I  shut  the  book 
quickly  as  the  thought  passes  through 
my  mind,  "The  print  will  be  all  rubbed 
out  if  I  get  it  wet."  Yet  there  is  no 
print  tangible  on  the  page ! 

This  morning  I  thought  that  I 
awoke.  I  was  certain  that  I  had  over- 
slept. I  seized  my  watch,  and  sure 
enough,  it  pointed  to  an  hour  after  my 
rising  time.  I  sprang  up  in  the  greatest 
hurry,  knowing  that  breakfast  was 
ready.  I  called  my  mother,  who  de- 
clared that  my  watch  must  be  wrong. 
She  was  positive,  it  could  not  be  so  late. 
I  looked  at  my  watch  again,  and  lo !  the 
hands  wiggled,  whirled,  buzzed  and  dis- 
appeared. I  awoke  more  fully  as  my 
dismay  grew,  until  I  was  at  the  antip- 
odes of  sleep.  Finally  my  eyes 
opened  actually,  and  I  knew  that  I  had 
been  dreaming.    I  had  only  waked  into 



sleep.  What  is  still  more  bewildering, 
there  is  no  difference  between  the  con- 
sciousness of  the  sham  waking  and  that 
of  the  real  one. 

It  is  fearful  to  think  that  all  that  we 
have  ever  seen,  felt,  read,  and  done  may 
suddenly  rise  to  our  dream-vision,  as  the 
sea  casts  up  objects  it  has  swallowed.  I 
have  held  a  little  child  in  my  arms  in  the 
midst  of  a  riot  and  spoken  vehemently, 
imploring  the  Russian  soldiers  not  to 
massacre  the  Jews.  I  have  re-lived  the 
agonizing  scenes  of  the  Sepoy  Rebellion 
and  the  French  Revolution.  Cities  have 
burned  before  my  eyes,  and  I  have 
fought  the  flames  until  I  fell  exhausted. 
Holocausts  overtake  the  world,  and  I 
struggle  in  vain  to  save  my  friends. 

Once  in  a  dream  a  message  came 
speeding  over  land  and  sea  that  winter 
was  descending  upon  the  world  from 




the  North  Pole,  that  the  Arctic  zone 
was  shifting  to  our  mild  climate.  Far 
and  wide  the  message  flew.  The  ocean 
was  congealed  in  midsummer.  Ships 
were  held  fast  in  the  ice  by  thousands, 
the  ships  with  large,  white  sails  were 
held  fast.  Riches  of  the  Orient  and  the 
plenteous  harvests  of  the  Golden  West 
might  no  more  pass  between  nation  and 
nation.  For  some  time  the  trees  and 
flowers  grew  on,  despite  the  intense 
cold.  Birds  flew  into  the  houses  for 
safety,  and  those  which  winter  had 
overtaken  lay  on  the  snow  with  wings 
spread  in  vain  flight.  At  last  the  foli- 
age and  blossoms  fell  at  the  feet  of 
Winter.  The  petals  of  the  flowers  were 
turned  to  rubies  and  sapphires.  The 
leaves  froze  into  emeralds.  The  trees 
moaned  and  tossed  their  branches  as  the 
frost  pierced  them  through  bark  and 



sap,  pierced  into  their  very  roots.  I 
shivered  myself  awake,  and  with  a  tu- 
mult of  joy  I  breathed  the  many  sweet 
morning  odors  wakened  by  the  summer 

One  need  not  visit  an  African  jungle 
or  an  Indian  forest  to  hunt  the  tiger. 
One  can  lie  in  bed  amid  downy  pillows 
and  dream  tigers  as  terrible  as  any  in 
the  pathless  wild.  I  was  a  little  girl 
when  one  night  I  tried  to  cross  the  gar- 
den in  front  of  my  aunt's  house  in 
Alabama.  I  was  in  pursuit  of  a  large 
cat  with  a  great  bushy  tail.  A  few 
hours  before  he  had  clawed  my  little 
canary  out  of  its  cage  and  crunched  it 
between  his  cruel  teeth.  I  could  not  see 
the  cat.  But  the  thought  in  my  mind 
was  distinct:  "He  is  making  for  the 
high  grass  at  the  end  of  the  garden. 
I  '11  get  there  first!"  I  put  my  hand  on 
10  145 


the  box  border  and  ran  swiftly  along 
the  path.  When  I  reached  the  high 
grass,  there  was  the  cat  gliding  into  the 
wavy  tangle.  I  rushed  forward  and 
tried  to  seize  him  and  take  the  bird  from 
between  his  teeth.  To  my  horror  a 
huge  beast,  not  the  cat  at  all,  sprang 
out  from  the  grass,  and  his  sinewy 
shoulder  rubbed  against  me  with  palpi- 
tating strength !  His  ears  stood  up  and 
quivered  with  anger.  His  eyes  were 
hot.  His  nostrils  were  large  and  wet. 
His  lips  moved  horribly.  I  knew  it  was 
a  tiger,  a  real  live  tiger,  and  that  I 
should  be  devoured— my  little  bird  and 
I.  I  do  not  know  what  happened  after 
that.  The  next  important  thing  seldom 
happens  in  dreams. 

Some  time  earlier  I  had  a  dream 
which  made  a  vivid  impression  upon  me. 
My    aunt   was    weeping    because    she 



could  not  find  me.  But  I  took  an  impish 
pleasure  in  the  thought  that  she  and 
others  were  searching  for  me,  and  mak- 
ing great  noise  which  I  felt  through 
my  feet.  Suddenly  the  spirit  of  mis- 
chief gave  way  to  uncertainty  and  fear. 
I  felt  cold.  The  air  smelt  like  ice  and 
salt.  I  tried  to  run;  but  the  long  grass 
tripped  me,  and  I  fell  forward  on  my 
face.  I  lay  very  still,  feeling  with  all 
my  body.  After  a  while  my  sensations 
seemed  to  be  concentrated  in  my  fingers, 
and  I  perceived  that  the  grass  blades 
were  sharp  as  knives,  and  hurt  my 
hands  cruelly.  I  tried  to  get  up  cau- 
tiously, so  as  not  to  cut  myself  on  the 
sharp  grass.  I  put  down  a  tentative 
foot,  much  as  my  kitten  treads  for  the 
first  time  the  primeval  forest  in  the 
back  yard.  All  at  once  I  felt  the 
stealthy  patter  of  something  creeping, 



creeping,    creeping    purposefully    to- 
ward me.     I  do  not  know  how  at  that 
time  the  idea  was  in  my  mind ;  I  had  no 
words  for  intention  or  purpose.    Yet  it 
was  precisely  the  evil  intent,  and  not  the 
creeping  animal  that  terrified  me.     I 
had  no  fear  of  living  creatures.    I  loved 
my  father's  dogs,  the  frisky  little  calf, 
the  gentle  cows,  the  horses  and  mules 
that  ate  apples  from  my  hand,  and  none 
of  them  had  ever  harmed  me.     I  lay 
low,  waiting  in  breathless  terror  for  the 
creature  to  spring  and  bury  its  long 
claws  in  my  flesh.     I  thought,  "They 
will    feel   like   turkey-claws."      Some- 
thing warm  and  wet  touched  my  face. 
I  shrieked,  struck  out  frantically,  and 
awoke.    Something  was  still  struggling 
in  my  arms.    I  held  on  with  might  and 
main  until   I   was   exhausted,   then   I 
loosed  my  hold.  I  found  dear  old  Belle, 



the  setter,  shaking  herself  and  looking 
at  me  reproachfully.  She  and  I  had 
gone  to  sleep  together  on  the  rug,  and 
had  naturally  wandered  to  the  dream- 
forest  where  dogs  and  little  girls  hunt 
wild  game  and  have  strange  adven- 
tures. We  encountered  hosts  of  elfin 
foes,  and  it  required  all  the  dog  tactics 
at  Belle's  command  to  acquit  herself 
like  the  lady  and  huntress  that  she  was. 
Belle  had  her  dreams  too.  We  used  to 
lie  under  the  trees  and  flowers  in  the  old 
garden,  and  I  used  to  laugh  with  de- 
light when  the  magnolia  leaves  fell  with 
little  thuds,  and  Belle  jumped  up, 
thinking  she  had  heard  a  partridge. 
She  would  pursue  the  leaf,  point  it, 
bring  it  back  to  me  and  lay  it  at  my  feet 
with  a  humorous  wag  of  her  tail  as 
much  as  to  say,  "This  is  the  kind  of  bird 
that  waked  me."     I  made  a  chain  for 



her  neck  out  of  the  lovely  blue  Paulow- 
nia  flowers  and  covered  her  with  great 
heart-shaped  leaves. 

Dear  old  Belle,  she  has  long  been 
dreaming  among  the  lotus-flowers  and 
poppies  of  the  dogs'  paradise. 

Certain  dreams  -have  haunted  me 
since  my  childhood.  One  which  recurs 
often  proceeds  after  this  wise:  A  spirit 
seems  to  pass  before  my  face.  I  feel  an 
extreme  heat  like  the  blast  from  an  en- 
gine. It  is  the  embodiment  of  evil.  I 
must  have  had  it  first  after  the  day  that 
I  nearly  got  burnt. 

Another  spirit  which  visits  me  often 
brings  a  sensation  of  cool  dampness, 
such  as  one  feels  on  a  chill  November 
night  when  the  window  is  open.  The 
spirit  stops  just  beyond  my  reach, 
sways  back  and  forth  like  a  creature  in 
grief.     My  blood  is  chilled,  and  seems 



to  freeze  in  my  veins.  I  try  to  move, 
but  my  body  is  still,  and  I  cannot  even 
cry  out.  After  a  while 'the  spirit  passes 
on,  and  I  say  to  myself  shudderingly, 
"That  was  Death.  I  wonder  if  he  has 
taken  her."  The  pronoun  stands  for 
my  Teacher. 

In  my  dreams  I  have  sensations, 
odors,  tastes,  and  ideas  which  I  do  not 
remember  to  have  had  in  reality.  Per- 
haps they  are  the  glimpses  which  my 
mind  catches  through  the  veil  of  sleep 
of  my  earliest  babyhood.  I  have  heard 
"the  trampling  of  many  waters." 
Sometimes  a  wonderful  light  visits  me 
in  sleep.  Such  a  flash  and  glory  as  it 
is!  I  gaze  and  gaze  until  it  vanishes. 
I  smell  and  taste  much  as  in  my  waking 
hours;  but  the  sense  of  touch  plays  a 
less  important  part.  In  sleep  I  almost 
never  grope.    Xo  one  guides  me.  Even 



in  a  crowded  street  I  am  self-sufficient, 
and  I  enjoy  an  independence  quite  for- 
eign to  my  physical  life.  Now  I  seldom 
spell  on  my  fingers,  and  it  is  still  rarer 
for  others  to  spell  into  my  hand.  My 
mind  acts  independent  of  my  physical 
organs.  I  am  delighted  to  be  thus  en- 
dowed, if  only  in  sleep;  for  then  my 
soul  dons  its  winged  sandals  and  joy- 
fully joins  the  throng  of  happy  beings 
who  dwell  beyond  the  reaches  of  bodily 

The  moral  inconsistency  of  dreams  is 
glaring.  Mine  grow  less  and  less  ac- 
cordant with  my  proper  principles.  I 
am  nightly  hurled  into  an  unethical 
medley  of  extremes.  I  must  either  de- 
fend another  to  the  last  drop  of  my 
blood  or  condemn  him  past  all  repent- 
ing. I  commit  murder,  sleeping,  to 
save  the  lives  of  others.     I  ascribe  to 



those  I  love  best  acts  and  words  which  it 
mortifies  me  to  remember,  and  I  cast 
reproach  after  reproach  upon  them. 
It  is  fortunate  for  our  peace  of  mind 
that  most  wicked  dreams  are  soon  for- 
gotten. Death,  sudden  and  awful, 
strange  loves  and  hates  remorselessly 
pursued,  cunningly  plotted  revenge,  are 
seldom  more  than  dim  haunting  recol- 
lections in  the  morning,  and  during  the 
day  they  are  erased  by  the  normal  activ- 
ities of  the  mind.  Sometimes  immedi- 
ately on  waking,  I  am  so  vexed  at  the 
memory  of  a  dream-fracas,  I  wish  I 
may  dream  no  more.  With  this  wish 
distinctly  before  me  I  drop  off  again 
into  a  new  turmoil  of  dreams. 

Oh,  dreams,  what  opprobrium  I  heap 
upon  you — you,  the  most  pointless 
things  imaginable,  saucy  apes,  brewers 
of  odious  contrasts,  haunting  birds  of 



ill  omen,  mocking  echoes,  unseasonable 
reminders,  oft-returning  vexations, 
skeletons  in  my  morris-chair,  jesters  in 
the  tomb,  death's-heads  at  the  wedding 
feast,  outlaws  of  the  brain  that  every 
night  defy  the  mind's  police  service, 
thieves  of  my  Hesperidean  apples, 
breakers  of  my  domestic  peace,  murder- 
ers of  sleep.  "Oh,  dreadful  dreams 
that  do  fright  my  spirit  from  her  pro- 
priety!" No  wonder  that  Hamlet  pre- 
ferred the  ills  he  knew  rather  than  run 
the  risk  of  one  dream-vision. 

Yet  remove  the  dream-world,  and  the 
loss  is  inconceivable.  The  magic  spell 
which  binds  poetry  together  is  broken. 
The  splendor  of  art  and  the  soaring 
might  of  imagination  are  lessened  be- 
cause no  phantom  of  fadeless  sunsets 
and  flowers  urges  onward  to  a  goal. 
Gone  is  the  mute  permission  or  conniv- 



ance  which  emboldens  the  soul  to  mock 
the  limits  of  time  and  space,  forecast 
and  gather  in  harvests  of  achievement 
for  ages  yet  unborn.  Blot  out  dreams, 
and  the  blind  lose  one  of  their  chief 
comforts;  for  in  the  visions  of  sleep 
they  behold  their  belief  in  the  seeing 
mind  and  their  expectation  of  light  be- 
yond the  blank,  narrow  night  justified. 
Nay,  our  conception  of  immortality  is 
shaken.  Faith,  the  motive-power  of 
human  life,  flickers  out.  Before  such 
vacancy  and  bareness  the  shock  of 
wrecked  worlds  were  indeed  welcome. 
In  truth,  dreams  bring  us  the  thought 
independently  of  us  and  in  spite  of  us 
that  the  soul 

may  right 
Her  nature,  shoot  large  sail  on  lengthening 

And  rush  exultant  on  the  Infinite. 




IT  is  astonishing  to  think  how  our  real 
wide-awake  life  .  revolves  around 
the  shadowy  unrealities  of  Dreamland. 
Despite  all  that  we  say  about  the  incon- 
sequence of  dreams,  we  often  reason  by 
them.  We  stake  our  greatest  hopes 
upon  them.  Nay,  we  build  upon  them 
the  fabric  of  an  ideal  world.  I  can  re- 
call few  fine,  thoughtful  poems,  few 
noble  works  of  art  or  any  system  of 
philosophy  in  which  there  is  not  evi- 
dence that  dream-fantasies  symbolize 
truths  concealed  by  phenomena. 

The  fact  that  in  dreams  confusion 
reigns,  and  illogical  connections  occur 



gives  plausibility  to  the  theory  which 
Sir  Arthur  Mitchell  and  other  scientific 
men  hold,  that  our  dream-thinking  is 
uncontrolled  and  undirected  by  the  will. 
The  will — the  inhibiting  and  guiding 
power— finds  rest  and  refreshment  in 
sleep,  while  the  mind,  like  a  bark  with- 
out rudder  or  compass,  drifts  aimlessly 
upon  an  uncharted  sea.  But  curiously 
enough,  these  fantasies  and  intertwist- 
ings  of  thought  are  to  be  found  in  great 
imaginative  poems  like  Spenser's 
"Faerie  Queene."  Lamb  was  impressed 
by  the  analogy  between  our  dream- 
thinking  and  the  work  of  the  imagina- 
tion. Speaking  of  the  episode  in  the 
cave  of  Mammon,  Lamb  wrote: 

"It  is  not  enough  to  say  that  the  whole 
episode  is  a  copy  of  the  mind's  concep- 
tions in  sleep;  it  is — in  some  sort,  but 
what  a  copy!    Let  the  most  romantic  of 



us  that  has  been  entertained  all  night 
with  the  spectacle  of  some  wild  and 
magnificent  vision,  re-combine  it  in  the 
morning  and  try  it  by  his  waking  judg- 
ment. That  which  appeared  so  shifting 
and  yet  so  coherent,  while  that  faculty 
was  passive,  when  it  comes  under  cool 
examination  shall  appear  so  reasonless 
and  so  unlinked,  that  we  are  ashamed  to 
have  been  so  deluded,  and  to  have  taken, 
though  but  in  sleep,  a  monster  for  a 
god.  But  the  transitions  in  this  episode 
are  every  whit  as  violent  as  in  the  most 
extravagant  dream,  and  yet  the  waking 
judgment  ratifies  them." 

Perhaps  I  feel  more  than  others  the 
analogy  between  the  world  of  our  wak- 
ing life  and  the  world  of  dreams  be- 
cause before  I  was  taught,  I  lived  in  a 
sort  of  perpetual  dream.  The  testi- 
mony   of    parents    and    friends    who 



watched  me  day  after  day  is  the  only 
means  that  I  have  of  knowing  the  ac- 
tuality of  those  early,  obscure  years  of 
my  childhood.  The  physical  acts  of  go- 
ing to  bed  and  waking  in  the  morning 
alone  mark  the  transition  from  reality 
to  Dreamland.  As  near  as  I  can  tell, 
asleep  or  awake  I  only  felt  with  my 
body.  I  can  recollect  no  process  which 
I  should  now  dignify  with  the  term  of 
thought.  It  is  true  that  my  bodily  sen- 
sations were  extremely  acute;  but  be- 
yond a  crude  connection  with  physical 
wants  they  were  not  associated  or 
directed.  They  had  little  relation  to 
each  other,  to  me,  or  to  the  experience 
of  others.  Idea — that  which  gives  iden- 
tity and  continuity  to  experience — 
came  into  my  sleeping  and  waking 
existence  at  the  same  moment  with 
the    awakening    of    self-consciousness. 



Before  that  moment  my  mind  was 
in  a  state  of  anarchy  in  which  mean- 
ingless sensations  rioted,  and  if  thought 
existed,  it  was  so  vague  and  inconsequent, 
it  cannot  be  made  a  part  of  discourse.  Yet 
before  my  education  began,  I  dreamed. 
I  know  that  I  must  have  dreamed  because 
I  recall  no  break  in  my  tactual  experi- 
ences. Things  fell  suddenly,  heavily.  I 
felt  my  clothing  afire,  or  I  fell  into  a  tub 
of  cold  water.  Once  I  smelt  bananas,  and 
the  odor  in  my  nostrils  was  so  vivid  that 
in  the  morning,  before  I  was  dressed, 
I  went  to  the  sideboard  to  look  for  the 
bananas.  There  were  no  bananas,  and 
no  odor  of  bananas  anywhere !  My  life 
was  in  fact  a  dream  throughout. 

The  likeness  between  my  waking 
state  and  the  sleeping  one  is  still 
marked.  In  both  states  I  see,  but  not 
with  my  eyes.    I  hear,  but  not  with  my 



ears.  I  speak,  and  am  spoken  to,  with- 
out the  sound  of  a  voice.  I  am  moved  to 
pleasure  by  visions  of  ineffable  beauty 
which  I  have  never  beheld  in  the  physi- 
cal world.  Once  in  a  dream  I  held  in 
my  hand  a  pearl.  I  have  no  memory- 
vision  of  a  real  pearl.  The  one  I  saw  in 
my  dreams  must,  therefore,  have  been  a 
creation  of  my  imagination.  It  was  a 
smooth,  exquisitely  molded  crystal. 
As  I  gazed  into  its  shimmering  deeps, 
my  soul  was  flooded  with  an  ecstasy  of 
tenderness,  and  I  was  filled  with  won- 
der as  one  who  should  for  the  first  time 
look  into  the  cool,  sweet  heart  of  a  rose. 
My  pearl  was  dew  and  fire,  the  velvety 
green  of  moss,  the  soft  whiteness  of 
lilies,  and  the  distilled  hues  and  sweet- 
ness of  a  thousand  roses.  It  seemed  to 
me,  the  soul  of  beauty  was  dissolved  in 
its  crystal  bosom.  This  beauteous  vision 
11  161 



strengthens  my  conviction  that  the 
world  which  the  mind  builds  up  out  of 
countless  subtle  experiences  and  sug- 
gestions is  fairer  than  the  world  of  the 
senses.  The  splendor  of  the  sunset  my 
friends  gaze  at  across  the  purpling  hills 
is  wonderful.  But  the  sunset  of  the 
inner  vision  brings  purer  delight  be- 
cause it  is  the  worshipful  blending  of  all 
the  beauty  that  we  have  known  and  de- 

I  believe  that  I  am  more  fortunate  in 
my  dreams  than  most  people;  for  as  I 
think  back  over  my  dreams,  the  pleasant 
ones  seem  to  predominate,  although 
we  naturally  recall  most  vividly  and  tell 
most  eagerly  the  grotesque  and  fantas- 
tic adventures  in  Slumberland.  I  have 
friends,  however,  whose  dreams  are  al- 
ways troubled  and  disturbed.  They 
wake  fatigued  and  bruised,  and  they 



tell  me  that  they  would  give  a  kingdom 
for  one  dreamless  night.  There  is  one 
friend  who  declares  that  she  has  never 
had  a  felicitous  dream  in  her  life.  The 
grind  and  worry  of  the  day  invade  the 
sweet  domain  of  sleep  and  weary  her 
with  incessant,  profitless  effort.  I  feel 
very  sorry  for  this  friend,  and  perhaps 
it  is  hardly  fair  to  insist  upon  the  plea- 
sure of  dreaming  in  the  presence  of  one 
whose  dream-experience  is  so  unhappy. 
Still,  it  is  true  that  my  dreams  have  uses 
as  many  and  sweet  as  those  of  adversity. 
All  my  yearning  for  the  strange,  the 
weird,  the  ghostlike  is  gratified  in  dreams. 
They  carry  me  out  of  the  accustomed 
and  commonplace.  In  a  flash,  in  the 
winking  of  an  eye  they  snatch  the  bur- 
den from  my  shoulder,  the  trivial  task 
from  my  hand  and  the  pain  and  disap- 
pointment from  my  heart,  and  I  behold 



the  lovely  face  of  my  dream.  It  dances 
round  me  with  merry  measure  and  darts 
hither  and  thither  in  happy  abandon. 
Sudden,  sweet  fancies  spring  forth 
from  every  nook  and  corner,  and  de- 
lightful surprises  meet  me  at  every 
turn.  A  happy  dream  is  more  precious 
than  gold  and  rubies. 

I  like  to  think  that  in  dreams  we 
catch  glimpses  of  a  life  larger  than  our 
own.  We  see  it  as  a  little  child,  or  as  a 
savage  who  visits  a  civilized  nation. 
Thoughts  are  imparted  to  us  far  above 
our  ordinary  thinking*  Feelings  nobler 
and  wiser  than  any  we  have  known 
thrill  us  between  heart-beats.  For  one 
fleeting  night  a  princelier  nature  cap- 
tures us,  and  we  become  as  great  as  our 
aspirations.  I  daresay  we  return  to  the 
little  world  of  our  daily  activities  Math 
as  distorted  a  half -memory  of  what  we 



have  seen  as  that  of  the  African  who 
visited  England,  and  afterwards  said  he 
had  been  in  a  huge  hill  which  carried 
him  over  great  waters.  The  compre- 
hensiveness of  our  thought,  whether  we 
are  asleep  or  awake,  no  doubt  depends- 
largely  upon  our  idiosyncrasies,  consti- 
tution, habits,  and  mental  capacity. 
But  whatever  may  be  the  nature  of  our 
dreams,  the  mental  processes  that  char- 
acterize them  are  analogous  to  those 
which  go  on  when  the  mind  is  not  held 
to  attention  by  the  will. 




I  have  sat  for  hours  in  a  sort  of  rev- 
erie, letting  my  mind  have  its  way 
without  inhibition  and  direction,  and 
idly  noted  down  the  incessant  beat  of 
thought  upon  thought,  image  upon  im- 
age. I  have  observed  that  my  thoughts 
make  all  kinds  of  connections,  wind  in 
and  out,  trace  concentric  circles,  and 
break  up  in  eddies' of  fantasy,  just  as  in 
dreams.  One  day  I  had  a  literary  frolic 
with  a  certain  set  of  thoughts  which 
dropped  in  for  an  afternoon  call.  I 
wrote  for  three  or  four  hours  as  they  ar- 
rived, and  the  resulting  record  is  much 
like  a  dream.    I  found  that  the  most  dis- 



connected,  dissimilar  thoughts  came  in 
arm-in-arm — I  dreamed  a  wide-awake 
dream.  The  difference  is  that  in  wak- 
ing dreams  I  can  look  back  upon  the 
endless  succession  of  thoughts,  while  in 
the  dreams  of  sleep  I  can  recall  but  few 
ideas  and  images,  I  catch  broken 
threads  from  the  warp  and  woof  of  a 
pattern  I  cannot  see,  or  glowing  leaves 
which  have  floated  on  a  slumber-wind 
from  a  tree  that  I  cannot  identify.  In 
this  reverie  I  held  the  key  to  the  com- 
pany of  ideas.  I  give  my  record  of 
them  to  show  what  analogies  exist  be- 
tween thoughts  when  they  are  not 
directed  and  the  behavior  of  real 

I  had  an  essay  to  write.  I  wanted  my 
mind  fresh  and  obedient,  and  all  its 
handmaidens  ready  to  hold  up  my  hands 
in  the  task.     I  intended  to  discourse 



learnedly  upon  my  educational  experi- 
ences, and  I  was  unusually  anxious  to 
do  my  best.  I  had  a  working  plan  in 
my  head  for  the  essay,  which  was  to  be 
grave,  wise,  and  abounding  in  ideas. 
Moreover,  it  was  to  have  an  academic 
flavor  suggestive  of  sheepskin,  and  the 
reader  was  to  be  duly  impressed  with 
the  austere  dignity  of  cap  and  gown.  I 
shut  myself  up  in  the  study,  resolved  to 
beat  out  on  the  keys  of  my  typewriter 
this  immortal  chapter  of  my  life-his- 
tory. Alexander  was  no  more  confident 
of  conquering  Asia  with  the  splendid 
army  which  his  father  Philip  had  disci- 
plined than  I  was  of  finding  my  mental 
house  in  order  and  my  thoughts  obedi- 
ent. My  mind  had  had  a  long  vacation, 
and  I  was  now  coming  back  to  it  in  an 
hour  that  it  looked  not  for  me.  My  sit- 
uation was  similar  to  that  of  the  master 



who  went  into  a  far  country  and  ex- 
pected on  his  home  coming  to  find  ev- 
erything as  he  left  it.  But  returning  he 
found  his  servants  giving  a  party.  Con- 
fusion was  rampant.  There  was  fiddling 
and  dancing  and  the  babble  of  many 
tongues,  so  that  the  voice  of  the  master 
could  not  be  heard.  Though  he  shouted 
and  beat  upon  the  gate,  it  remained 

So  it  was  with  me.  I  sounded  the 
trumpet  loud  and  long;  but  the  vassals 
of  thought  would  not  rally  to  my  stan- 
dard. Each  had  his  arm  round  the  waist 
of  a  fair  partner,  and  I  know  not  what 
wild  tunes  "put  life  and  mettle  into 
their  heels."  There  was  nothing  to  do. 
I  looked  about  helplessly  upon  my 
great  retinue,  and  realized  that  it  is  not 
the  possession  of  a  thing  but  the  ability 
to  use  it  which  is  of  value.     I  settled 



back  in  my  chair  to  watch  the  pageant. 
It  was  rather  pleasant  sitting  there, 
"idle  as  a  painted  ship  upon  a  painted 
ocean,"  watching  my  own  thoughts  at 
play.  It  was  like  thinking  fine  things 
to  say  without  taking  the  trouble  to 
write  them.  I  felt  like  Alice  in  Won- 
derland when  she  ran  at  full  speed  with 
the  red  queen  and  never  passed  any- 
thing or  got  anywhere. 

The  merry  frolic  went  on  madly. 
The  dancers  were  all  manner  of 
thoughts.  There  were  sad  thoughts  and 
happy  thoughts,  thoughts  suited  to 
every  clime  and  weather,  thoughts  bear- 
ing the  mark  of  every  age  and  nation, 
silly  thoughts  and  wise  thoughts, 
thoughts  of  people,  of  things,  and  of 
nothing,  good  thoughts,  impish  thoughts 
and  large,  gracious  thoughts.  There 
they   went   swinging   hand-in-hand   in 



corkscrew  fashion.  An  antic  jester  in 
green  and  gold  led  the  dance.  The 
guests  followed  no  order  or  precedent. 
No  two  thoughts  were  related  to  each 
other  even  by  the  fortieth  cousinship. 
There  was  not  so  much  as  an  interna- 
tional alliance  between  them.  Each 
thought  behaved  like  a  newly  created 

His  mouth  he  could  not  ope, 
But  there  flew  out  a  trope. 

Magical  lyrics—  oh,  if  I  only  had  writ- 
ten them  down!     Pell-mell  thev  came 


down  the  sequestered  avenues  of  my 
mind,  this  merry  throng.  With  baccha- 
nal song  and  shout  they  came,  and  eye 
hath  not  since  beheld  confusion  worse 

Shut  vour  eves,  and  see  them  come — 
the  knights  and  ladies  of  my  revel. 
Plumed  and  turbaned  they  come,  clad  in 



mail  and  silken  broideries,  gentle  maids 
in  Quaker  gray,  gay  princes  in  scarlet 
cloaks,  coquettes  with  roses  in  their  hair, 
monks  in  cowls  that  might  have  covered 
the  tall  Minster  Tower,  demure  little 
girls  hugging  paper  dolls,  and  rollick- 
ing school-boys  with  ruddy  morning 
faces,  an  absent-minded  professor  car- 
rying his  shoes  under  his  arms  and 
looking  wise,  followed  by  cronies,  fair- 
ies, goblins,  and  all  the  troops  just  loosed 
from  Noah's  storm-tossed  ark.  They 
walked,  they  strutted,  they  soared,  they 
swam,  and  some  came  in  through  fire. 
One  sprite  climbed  up  to  the  moon  on  a 
ladder  made  of  leaves  and  frozen  dew- 
drops.  A  peacock  with  a  great  hooked 
bill  flew  in  and  out  among  the  branches 
of  a  pomegranate-tree  pecking  the  rosy 
fruit.  He  screamed  so  loud  that  Apollo 
turned  in  his  chariot  of  flame  and  from 


Copyright,  1907,  by  The  Whitman  Studio 

The  Little  Boy  Next  Door 


his  burnished  bow  shot  golden  arrows 
at  him.  This  did  not  disturb  the  pea- 
cock in  the  least ;  for  he  spread  his  gem- 
like wings  and  flourished  his  wonderful, 
fire-tipped  tail  in  the  very  face  of  the 
sun-god!  Then  came  Venus — an  exact 
copy  of  my  own  plaster  cast — serene, 
calm-eyed,  dancing  "high  and  dispos- 
edly"  like  Queen  Elizabeth,  surrounded 
by  a  troop  of  lovely  Cupids  mounted  on 
rose-tinted  clouds,  blown  hither  and 
thither  by  sweet  winds,  while  all  around 
danced  flowers  and  streams  and  queer 
little  Japanese  cherry-trees  in  pots! 
They  were  followed  by  jovial  Pan 
with  green  hair  and  jeweled  sandals, 
and  by  his  side — I  could  scarcely  believe 
my  eyes !  walked  a  modest  nun  counting 
her  beads.  At  a  little  distance  were  seen 
three  dancers  arm-in-arm,  a  lean, 
starved  platitude,  a  rosy,  dimpled  joke, 



and  a  steel-ribbed  sermon  on  predesti- 
nation. Close  upon  them  came  a  whole 
string  of  Nights  with  wind-blown 
hair  and  Days  with  fagots  on  their 
backs.  All  at  once  I  saw  the  ample  fig- 
ure of  Life  rise  above  the  whirling  mass 
holding  a  naked  child  in  one  hand  and 
in  the  other  a  gleaming  sword.  A  bear 
crouched  at  her  feet,  and  all  about  her 
swirled  and  glowed  a  multitudinous  host 
of  tiny  atoms  which  sang  all  together, 
"We  are  the  will  of  God."  Atom  wed- 
ded atom,  and  chemical  married  chemi- 
cal, and  the  cosmic  dance  went  on  in 
changing,  changeless  measure,  until  my 
head  sang  like  a  buzz-saw. 

Just  as  I  was  thinking  I  would  leave 
this  scene  of  phantoms  and  take  a  stroll 
in  the  quiet  groves  of  Slumber  I  noticed 
a  commotion  near  one  of  the  entrances 
to  my  enchanted  palace.    It  was  evident 



from  the  whispering  and  buzzing  that 
went  round  that  more  celebrities  had  ar- 
rived. The  first  personage  I  saw  was 
Homer,  blind  no  more,  leading  by  a 
golden  chain  the  white-beaked  ships  of 
the  Achaians  bobbing  their  heads  and 
squawking  like  so  many  white  swans. 
Plato  and  Mother  Goose  with  the  numer- 
ous children  of  the  Shoe  came  next.  Sim- 
ple Simon,  Jill  and  Jack,  who  had  just 
had  his  head  mended,  and  the  cat  that 
fell  into  the  cream — all  these  danced  in 
a  giddy  reel,  while  Plato  solemnly  dis- 
coursed on  the  laws  of  Topsyturvy 
Land.  Then  followed  grim-visaged 
Calvin  and  "violet-crowned,  sweet-smil- 
ing Sappho"  who  danced  a  schottische. 
Aristophanes  and  Moliere  joined  for  a 
measure,  both  talking  at  once,  Moliere 
in  Greek  and  Aristophanes  in  German. 
I  thought  this  odd  because  it  occurred 



to  me  that  German  was  a  dead  lan- 
guage before  Aristophanes  was  born. 
Bright-eyed  Shelley  brought  in  a  flut- 
tering lark  which  burst  into  the  song  of 
Chaucer's  chanticleer.  Henry  Esmond 
gave  his  hand  in  a  stately  minuet  to  Di- 
ana of  the  Crossways.  He  evidently 
did  not  understand  her  nineteenth-cen- 
tury wit ;  for  he  did  not  laugh.  Perhaps 
he  had  lost  his  taste  for  clever  women. 
Anon  Dante  and  Swedenborg  came  to- 
gether conversing  earnestly  about  things 
remote  and  mystical.  Swedenborg  said 
it  was  very  warm.  Dante  replied  that  it 
might  rain  in  the  night. 

Suddenly  there  was  a  great  clamor, 
and  I  found  that  "The  Battle  of  the 
Books"  had  begun  raging  anew.  Two 
figures  entered  in  lively  dispute.  One 
was  dressed  in  plain  homespun  and  the 
other  wore  a  scholar's  gown  over  a  suit 



of  motley.  I  gathered  from  their  con- 
versation that  they  were  Cotton  Mather 
and  William  Shakspere.  Mather  in- 
sisted that  the  witches  in  "Macbeth" 
should  be  caught  and  hanged.  Shak- 
spere replied  that  the  witches  had  al- 
ready suffered  enough  at  the  hands  of 
commentators.  They  were  pushed 
aside  by  the  twelve  knights  of  the 
Round  Table,  who  marched  in  bearing 
on  a  salver  the  goose  that  laid  golden 
eggs.  "The  Pope's  Mule"  and  "The 
Golden  Bull"  had  a  combat  of  history 
and  fiction  such  as  I  had  read  of  in 
books,  but  never  before  witnessed. 
These  little  animals  were  put  to  rout  by 
a  huge  elephant  which  lumbered  in  with 
Rudyard  Kipling  riding  high  on  its 
trunk.  The  elephant  changed  suddenly 
to  "a  rakish  craft."  (I  do  not  know 
what  a  rakish  craft  is ;  but  this  was  very 

12  }7^ 


rakish  and  very  crafty. )  It  must  have 
been  abandoned  long  ago  by  wild  pi- 
rates of  the  southern  seas ;  for  clinging 
to  the  rigging,  and  jovially  cheering  as 
the  ship  went  down,  I  made  out  a  man 
with  blazing  eyes,  clad  in  a  velveteen 
jacket.  As  the  ship  disappeared  from 
sight,  FalstafF  rushed  to  the  rescue  of 
the  lonely  navigator— and  stole  his 
purse !  But  Miranda  persuaded  him  to 
give  it  back.  Stevenson  said,  "Who 
steals  my  purse  steals  trash."  Falstaff 
laughed  and  called  this  a  good  joke,  as 
good  as  any  he  had  heard  in  his  day. 

This  was  the  signal  for  a  rushing 
swarm  of  quotations.  They  surged  to 
and  fro,  an  inchoate  throng  of  half -fin- 
ished phrases,  mutilated  sentences,  par- 
odied sentiments,  and  brilliant  meta- 
phors. I  could  not  distinguish  any 
phrases  or  ideas  of  my  own  making.    I 



saw  a  poor,  ragged,  shrunken  sentence 
that  might  have  been  mine  own  catch 
the  wings  of  a  fair  idea  with  the  light  of 
genius  shining  like  a  halo  about  its  head. 
Ever  and  anon  the  dancers  changed 
partners  without  invitation  or  permis- 
sion. Thoughts  fell  in  love  at  sight, 
married  in  a  measure,  and  joined  hands 
without  previous  courtship.  An  incon- 
gruity is  the  wedding  of  two  thoughts 
which  have  had  no  reasonable  courtship, 
and  marriages  without  wooing  are  apt 
to  lead  to  domestic  discord,  even  to  the 
breaking  up  of  an  ancient,  time-hon- 
ored family.  Among  the  wedded  cou- 
ples were  certain  similes  hitherto  invio- 
lable in  their  bachelorhood  and  spinster- 
hood,  and  held  in  great  respect.  Their 
extraordinary  proceedings  nearly  broke 
up  the  dance.  But  the  fatuity  of  their 
union  was  evident  to  them,  and  they 



parted.  Other  similes  seemed  to  have 
the  habit  of  living  in  discord.  They  had 
been  many  times  married  and  divorced. 
They  belonged  to  the  notorious  society 
of  Mixed  Metaphors. 

A  company  of  phantoms  floated  in 
and  out  wearing  tantalizing  garments 
of  oblivion.  They  seemed  about  to 
dance,  then  vanished.  They  reappeared 
half  a  dozen  times,  but  never  unveiled 
their  faces.  The  imp  Curiosity  pulled 
Memory  by  the  sleeve  and  said,  "Why 
do  they  run  away?  'T  is  strange  knav- 
ery!" Out  ran  Memory  to  capture 
them.  After  a  great  deal  of  racing  and 
puffing  and  collision  it  apprehended 
some  of  the  fugitives  and  brought  them 
in.  But  when  it  tore  off  their  masks, 
lo!  some  were  disappointingly  com- 
monplace, and  others  were  gipsy  quota- 
tions trying  to  conceal  the  punctuation 



marks  that  belonged  to  them.  Memory 
was  much  chagrined  to  have  had  such  a 
hard  chase  only  to  catch  this  sorry  lot  of 
graceless  rogues. 

Into  the  rabble  strode  four  stately 
giants  who  called  themselves  History, 
Philosophy,  Law,  and  Medicine.  They 
seemed  too  solemn  and  imposing  to  join 
in  a  masque.  But  even  as  I  gazed  at 
these  formidable  guests,  they  all  split 
into  fragments  which  went  whirling, 
dancing  in  divisions,  subdivisions,  re- 
subdivisions  of  scientific  nonsense !  His- 
tory split  into  philology,  ethnology, 
anthropology,  and  mythology,  and  these 
again  split  finer  than  the  splitting  of 
hairs.  Each  specialty  hugged  its  bit  of 
knowledge  and  waltzed  it  round  and 
round.  The  rest  of  the  company  began 
to  nod,  and  I  felt  drowsy  myself.  To 
put  an  end  to  the  solemn  gyrations,  a 

13  181 


troop  of  fairies  mercifully  waved  pop- 
pies over  us  all,  the  masque  faded,  my 
head  fell,  and  I  started.  Sleep  had 
wakened  me.  At  my  elbow  I  found  my 
old  friend  Bottom. 

"Bottom,"  I  said,  "I  have  had  a 
dream  past  the  wit  of  man  to  say  what 
dream  it  was.  Methought  I  was— there 
is  no  man  can  tell  what.  The  eye  of 
man  hath  not  heard,  the  ear  of  man  hath 
not  seen,  his  hand  is  not  able  to  taste,  his 
tongue  to  conceive,  nor  his  heart  to  re- 
port what  my  dream  was." 



"My  wings  are  folded  o'er  mine  ears, 
My  wings  are  crossed  o'er  mine  eyes, 
Yet  through  their  silver  shade  appears, 
And  through  their  lulling  plumes  arise, 
A  Shape,  a  throng  of  sounds." 

Shelley's  "Prometheus  Unbound." 

I  DARE  NOT  ask  why  we  are  reft  of  light, 
Banished  to  our  solitary  isles  amid  the 
unmeasured  seas, 
Or  how  our  sight  was  nurtured  to  glorious 

To  fade  and  vanish  and  leave  us  in  the  dark 

The  secret  of  God  is  upon  our  tabernacle ; 
Into  His  mystery  I  dare  not  pry.     Only  this 
I  know: 



With  Him  is  strength,  with  Him  is  wisdom, 
And  His  wisdom  hath  set   darkness  in  our 

Out  of  the  uncharted,unthin1eable  dark  we  came, 
And  in  a  little  time  we  shall  return  again 
Into  the  vast,  unanswering  dark. 

O  Dark!  thou  awful,  sweet,  and  holy  Dark! 

In  thy  solemn  spaces,  beyond  the  human  eye, 

God  fashioned  His  universe ;  laid  the  founda- 
tions of  the  earth, 

Laid  the  measure  thereof,  and  stretched  the 
line  upon  it; 

Shut  up  the  sea  with  doors,  and  made  the 

Of  the  clouds  a  covering  for  it ; 

Commanded  His*  morning,  and,  behold !  chaos 

Before  themplif ted  face  of  the  sun ; 

Divided  a  water-course  for  the  overflowing 
of  waters ; 

Sent  rain  upon  the  earth — 



Upon  the  wilderness  wherein  there  was  no  man, 
Upon  the  desert  where  grew  no  tender  herb, 
And,  lo !  there  was  greenness  upon  the  plains, 
And  the  hills  were  clothed  with  beauty ! 
Out  of  the  uncharted,  unthinkable  dark  we  came, 
And  in  a  little  time  we  shall  return  again 
Into  the  vast,  unanswering  dark. 

O  Dark !  thou  secret  and  inscrutable  Dark ! 

In  thy  silent  depths,  the  springs  whereof  man 
hath  not  fathomed, 

God  wrought  the  soul  of  man. 

O  Dark !  compassionate,  all-knowing  Dark ! 

Tenderly,  as  shadows  to  the  evening,  comes 
thy  message  to  man. 

Softly  thou  layest  thy  hand  on  his  tired  eye- 

And  his  soul,  weary  and  homesick,  returns 

Unto  thy  soothing  embrace. 

Out  of  the  uncharted, unthinkable  dark  we  came, 

And  in  a  little  time  we  shall  return  again 

Into  the  vast,  unanswering  dark. 



0  Dark!  wise,  vital,  thought-quickening 

In  thy  mystery  thou  hidest  the  light 
That  is  the  soul's  life. 
Upon  thy  solitary  shores  I  walk  unafraid ; 

1  dread  no  evil;  though  I  walk  in  the  valley 

of  the  shadow, 
I  shall  not  know  the  ecstasy  of  fear 
When  gentle  Death  leads  me  through  life's 

open  door, 
When  the  bands  of  night  are  sundered, 
And  the  day  outpours  its  light. 
Out  of  the  uncharted, unthinkable  dark  we  came, 
And  in  a  little  time  we  shall  return  again 
Into  the  vast,  unanswering  dark. 

The  timid  soul,  fear-driven,  shuns  the  dark; 
But  upon  the  cheeks  of  him  who  must  abide 

in  shadow 
Breathes  the  wind  of  rushing  angel-wings, 
And  round  him  falls  a  light  from  unseen 




Magical  beams  glow  athwart  the  darkness ; 
Paths  of  beauty  wind  through  his  black 

To  another  world  of  light, 
Where  no  veil  of  sense  shuts  him  out  from 

Out  of  the  unchartcd,unthinkable  dark  we  came, 
And  in  a  little  time  ive  shall  return  again 
Into  the  vast,  unanswering  dark. 

0  Dark !  thou  blessed,  quiet  Dark ! 

To  the  lone  exile  who  must  dwell  with  thee 

Thou  art  benign  and  friendly ; 

From  the  harsh  world  thou  dost  shut  him  in ; 

To  him  thou  whisperest  the  secrets  of  the 

wondrous  night ; 
Upon  him  thou  bestowest  regions  wide  and 

boundless  as  his  spirit ; 
Thou  givest  a  glory  to  all  humble  things ; 
With  thy  hovering  pinions  thou  coverest  all 

unlovely  objects; 
Under  thy  brooding  wings  there  is  peace. 



Out  of  the  uncharted, unthinkable  dark  we  came, 
And  in  a  little  time  we  shall  return  again 
Into  the  vast,  unanswering  dark. 

Once  in  regions  void  of  light  I  wandered ; 

In  blank  darkness  I  stumbled, 

And  fear  led  me  by  the  hand ; 

My  feet  pressed  earthward, 

Afraid  of  pitfalls. 

By  many  shapeless  terrors  of  the  night 

To  the  wakeful  day 
I  held  out  beseeching  arms. 

Then  came  Love,  bearing  in  her  hand 
The  torch  that  is  the  light  unto  my  feet, 
And  softly  spoke  Love :  "Hast  thou 
Entered  into  the  treasures  of  darkness? 
Hast  thou  entered  into  the  treasures  of  the 
night  ? 



Search  out  thy  blindness.    It  holdeth 
Riches  past  computing." 

The  words  of  Love  set  my  spirit  aflame. 
My  eager  fingers  searched  out  the  mysteries, 
The  splendors,  the  inmost  sacredness,  of 

And  in  the  vacancies  discerned 
With  spiritual  sense  the  fullness  of  life ; 
And  the  gates  of  Day  stood  wide. 

I  am  shaken  with  gladness  ; 
My  limbs  tremble  with  joy ; 
My  heart  and  the  earth 
Tremble  with  happiness ; 
The  ecstasy  of  life 
Is  abroad  in  the  world. 

Knowledge  hath  uncurtained  heaven ; 

On  the  uttermost  shores  of  darkness  there  is 

Midnight  hath  sent  forth  a  beam ! 



The  blind  that  stumbled  in  darkness  without 

Behold  a  new  day ! 

In  the  obscurity  gleams  the  star  of  Thought ; 
Imagination  hath  a  luminous  eye, 
And  the  mind  hath  a  glorious  vision. 


"The  man  is  blind.    What  is  life  to 

A  closed  book  held  up  against  a  sightless 

Would  that  he  could  see 
Yon  beauteous  star,  and  know 
For  one  transcendent  moment 
The  palpitating  joy  of  sight!" 

All  sight  is  of  the  soul. 
Behold  it  in  the  upward  flight 
Of  the  unfettered  spirit !    Hast  thou  seen 
Thought  bloom  in  the  blind  child's  face? 



Hast  thou  seen  his  mind  grow, 
Like  the  running  dawn,  to  grasp 
The  vision  of  the  Master? 
It  was  the  miracle  of  inward  sight. 

In  the  realms  of  wonderment  where  I 

I  explore  life  with  my  hands ; 
I  recognize,  and  am  happy ; 
My  fingers  are  ever  athirst  for  the  earth, 
And  drink  up  its  wonders  with  delight, 
Draw  out  earth's  dear  delights ; 
My  feet  are  charged  with  the  murmur, 
The  throb,  of  all  things  that  grow. 

This  is  touch,  this  quivering, 
This  flame,  this  ether, 
This  glad  rush  of  blood, 
This  daylight  in  my  heart, 
This  glow  of  sympathy  in  my  palms ! 
Thou  blind,  loving,  all-prying  touch, 
Thou  openest  the  book  of  life  to  me. 



The  noiseless  little  noises  of  earth 

Come  with  softest  rustle ; 

The  shy,  sweet  feet  of  life ; 

The  silky  flutter  of  moth-wings 

Against  my  restraining  palm ; 

The  strident  beat  of  insect-wings, 

The  silvery  trickle  of  water ; 

Little  breezes  busy  in  the  summer  grass ; 

The  music  of  crisp,  whisking,  scurrying 

The  swirling,  wind-swept,  frost-tinted 

leaves ; 
The  crystal  splash  of  summer  rain, 
Saturate  with  the  odors  of  the  sod. 

With  alert  fingers  I  listen 

To  the  showers  of  sound 

That  the  wind  shakes  from  the  forest. 

I  bathe  in  the  liquid  shade 

Under  the  pines,  where  the  air  hangs 

After  the  shower  is  done. 



My  saucy  little  friend  the  squirrel 

Flips  my  shoulder  with  his  tail, 

Leaps  from  leafy  billow  to  leafy  billow, 

Returns  to  eat  his  breakfast  from  my  hand. 

Between  us  there  is  glad  sympathy ; 

He  gambols ;  my  pulses  dance ; 

I  am  exultingly  full  of  the  joy  of  life! 

Have  not  my  fingers  split  the  sand 

On  the  sun-flooded  beach? 

Hath  not  my  naked  body  felt  the  water 

When  the  sea  hath  enveloped  it 
With  rippling  music? 
Have  I  not  felt 

The  lilt  of  waves  beneath  my  boat, 
The  flap  of  sail, 
The  strain  of  mast, 
The  wild  rush 

Of  the  lightning-charged  winds? 
Have  I  not  smelt  the  swift,  keen  flight 
Of  winged  odors  before  the  tempest? 



Here  is  joy  awake,  aglow; 
Here  is  the  tumult  of  the  heart. 

My  hands  evoke  sight  and  sound  out  of  feel- 

Intershifting  the  senses  endlessly ; 

Linking  motion  with  sight,  odor  with 

They  give  color  to  the  honeyed  breeze, 

The  measure  and  passion  of  a  symphony 

To  the  beat  and  quiver  of  unseen  wings. 

In  the  secrets  of  earth  and  sun  and  air 

My  fingers  are  wise ; 

They  snatch  light  out  of  darkness, 

They  thrill  to  harmonies  breathed  in 

I  walk  in  the  stillness  of  the  night, 
And  my  soul  uttereth  her  gladness. 
O  Night,  still,  odorous  Night,  I  love  thee ! 
O  wide,  spacious  Night,  I  love  thee ! 
O  steadfast,  glorious  Night ! 



I  touch  thee  with  my  hands  ; 
I  lean  against  thy  strength; 
I  am  comforted. 

0  fathomless,  soothing  Night ! 

Thou  art  a  balm  to  my  restless  spirit, 

1  nestle  gratefully  in  thy  bosom, 
Dark,  gracious  mother ! 

Like  a  dove,  I  rest  in  thy  bosom. 
Out  of  the  uncharted,unthinkable  dark  we  came, 
And  in  a  little  time  we  shall  return  again 
Into  the  vast,  unanswering  dark. 




SE  92